Monday, December 19, 2011

O Radix Jesse

Note: This post is the third in a series of posts on the "O Antiphons" that I wrote two years ago. I'm reposting them here this year as we head towards Christmas.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; 
before you kings will shut their mouths, 
to you the nations will make their prayer: 
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer. 

“Truth,” Pilate asks, “What is truth?” Thus Power responds to God incarnate. Of course, the power of God in Christ was difficult to see for many. Few look at the pain and suffering of the cross, point their fingers, and say, “That is power.”

But the answer to Pilate's question of truth stood before him in the abused prisoner. The glory of divine power was revealed as Christ gave completely of himself for others.

Perhaps Pilate should have shut his mouth.

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree, 
an ensign of thy people be; 
before thee rulers silent fall; 
all peoples on thy mercy call. 

This O Antiphon describes the return of the Davidic kingship. The original son of Jesse, David, was promised a throne in perpetuity. The coming Messiah would sit on that throne, in power and great glory. And yet, instead of ascending a throne, the promised Messiah was lifted up on a tree.

What kind of a sign is that?

In the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). The majesty of the Davidic kingship, culminating in the reign of a Messiah lifted up on the cross, was drawing of all people together through an act of self-giving love. In Ephesians we are told, “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Ephesians 2:14). In Christ's ascension on the cross, we see God join human suffering, we see God experience all of the things we build up as barriers between each other. Through this self-giving love, Jesus sought to “reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.”

Drawing all things together in God.

As Father Tobias says, in the economy of God's salvation nothing goes to waste. Look around you, the Root of Jesse is coming. And the Root is not coming to secure our own power, but to jostle the world until we will stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters and see the image of God in them. Thus the nations pray. Thus the nations, beat down by the Powers of this world, long for justice and true friendship.

Watch, God is making everything new.

O Radix Jesse.


Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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