Advent 2014: ‘O Radix Iesse’
O Radix Iesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur; veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
‘O Root of Jesse, set up as a sign for the peoples, before whom kings will stop their mouths, to whom the nations will pray: Come to set us free, delay no more.’
The picture of the Messiah as Root of Jesse is contained in a prophecy of Isaiah. When he delivered this prophecy, Israel was utterly dispersed and mixed with other peoples, what we call the Babylonian exile. The image of the root is a complement to a previous Isaiah’s words in which he metaphorically described a decline of Judah and Jerusalem: “See how the Lord Sabaoth violently lops off the foliage! The ones standing highest are cut down, the proudest are laid low! The forest thickets fall beneath the axe, and the Lebanon falls to the blows of a Mighty One” (Is 10: 33-34). It is a picture of the complete devastation of the Kingdom of Judah along with all the important state-run institutions. David’s dynasty collapsed.
But among this apparently deserted area, there grows new life amid the chosen people from the root of Jesse. The Root is a descendant of King David who will become soaked anew with the Spirit of the Lord: “On him will rest the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2).
Today’s antiphon expresses hope and deep yearning for the true Messiah under quite difficult, painful and sad circumstances. This prophecy teaches us that works of God arise among hardships and seemingly hopeless situations. The Lord do not leave us. Moreover, God restores us life in Jesus Christ and he wants to gives us full of his gifts – gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Come to set us free, delay no more!