O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
Notice how this antiphon doesn’t say “branch of Jesse’s stem” or “flower of Jesse’s stem.” It calls Jesus the root of Jesse’s stem. Jesse was David’s (David and Goliath, aka King David) father. The line of David was to be the line of kings. Isaiah foretold that it would be from the Davidic line that the Messiah would come. We read in the New Testament that Joseph was of the House of David.
But, those familiar with David’s story know that David screwed up. And even though his son, Solomon, was the wisest of men, he too strayed away from God’s laws. The Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon would not survive and was split into 2 kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. It wasn’t long before both were conquered by their enemies and taken away from the Promised Land. The tree of Jesse that had flourished was quite literally cut off at the stump.
But again, God is a God of fulfilled promises. Even though the Davidic line was indeed cut off, it was not uprooted. A new green shoot full of life would spring forth – Jesus. Just like in winter how a plant seems to die, come spring new life appears. Even when humanity goes astray and forgets about God, God never for a moment forgets about us. His love for us is eternal and His love for all His people is equal. No one is beneath or outside of God’s love.
When we turn away from God, when we cut ourselves off, God continues to reach out for us, just as the root of Jesse stretched itself outward and upward in the hopes of new life.
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