Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

“O” The Lord is Branching Out

Entering into Day Three of the O Antiphons, we encounter the Messianic title of Radix Jesse or Root of Jesse. This title is taken from the Isaiah 11 prophecy:

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:1-10)

Bud would more accurately be translated as branch – although we think of buds blooming and not branches. The Nazer or branch, as it is rendered in English from Aramaic, is a famous Messianic reference for the Jews. It proclaimed a time of peace and virtuous leadership. It described a leader endowed with the seven-fold gifts of holiness. Most of all it spoke of a Savior.

Scripture recalls for us that one of Jesus’ other titles is Jesus the Nazorean. Nazorean takes its root from Nazer and Jesus, of course, means one who saves. At the moment in time Jesus lived, to be called a Nazorean was a slur. And yet, if the Jews had remembered their history and prophecy, they would know that from Nazareth the Savior would arise.

Let’s place our hope in Jesus as we pray:

O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

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