O Radix Jesse

Source: District of Asia

This title belongs to Christ as a descendant of David who was son of Jesse. But the prophets see the Messiah as another David, as an immediate son of Jesse. Of old it was customary to represent the Tree of Jesse over the portals of churches, in their stained-glass windows, or in illuminated missals. At the root stood Jesse; at the top- twig appeared Mary; and from her bloomed the flower Jesus.

Petition: That we may rally round the standard which Jesus will raise over the nations, and give Him loyal service.

I.  O Off shoot of Jesse

"O Offshoot of Jesse, set up as the standard of the nations, before whom the kings of the earth will not dare to open their mouths, and to whom even the Gentiles will turn in prayer..

During the ten centuries that lie between Jesse and the Messiah many branches sprang from the parent root, not all of them hale and sound. The blood of this race, like that of every other race, had suffered contamination. But the last twig that established a relationship between the Messiah and David was an immaculate Virgin, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. St Jerome was the first to see in the top-twig of the tree of Jesse a symbol of Mary, and the flower that blossomed on this twig a symbol of Jesus. There is in the Divine Office a response dating from the Middle Ages that says, "From the root of Jesse grew a branch, on that branch bloomed a flower, and upon that flower descended the Holy Ghost." God's Virgin Mother is the branch; her Son is the flower, and the Holy Ghost descended upon Him.

There is also an ancient Marian hymn:

A rose twig grew out of a root

(The chronicles say 'tis Jesse's)

And now the twig brought forth a rose

in the winter's depth, at dead of night.

O rose twig, O Mary,

O Virgin without taint,

Thee lauds in song Isaias

and the Bud by thee brought forth;

for, God's design eternal

had chosen thee to bear

the Rosebud of Jesse

to the whole world's avail.

"The standard of the nations." One day that standard will be the Cross, which will be lifted up high above the nations, and from which He shall draw all things to Himself (Jn. 12:32). Furthermore, the prophet foresaw that in the dim future the kings of the earth would not dare to open their mouths before that standard St Ignatius beheld, confronting the standard of the Lord, another, that of Lucifer, "the deadly foe of human nature." Both leaders strive to draw men under their banner, Christ by humility and truth, Satan by pride and deceit. Christ intends founding a Kingdom of peace and love, Satan one of hatred and disorder. For two thousand years these two kingdoms have been locked in unrelenting warfare; today the conflict is still raging: it is the strife between God's Church and her enemies. Within our own hearts, too, we experience what the Imitation (3: 15: 4) calls the conflicting promptings of nature and grace.

Christ will not wait to raise aloft His standard until He is dying on the Cross; that standard will rise above the stable of Bethlehem.

We pray that we may be enrolled under His standard and become imbued with His spirit.

II. "Tarry Not, But Come and Deliver Us!"

Once again the same prayer! But can an exile, a captive, a sorely tried soul change this theme? Jesus Himself, one day, will keep repeating over and over again the same ap- peal to His Father, and each time with greater urgency. "Tarry not: do not delay:" these words imply no lack of reverence or of patience: they only express a sore distress and an unshakable trust in the Lord.

It is a great grace to be able to pray thus: for, such a prayer is a cry of anguish from a soul which in the very depths of its being feel its need of God-of God's Light, of His Peace, of His Love.

Prayer: "I will trust in Thee, O Lord; my soul will rely on Thy word. My soul has longed and longed for the Lord, like the watchman in the night for the dawn. More eagerly than the watchmen for the dawn, we are looking out for the Lord; because with the Lord there is mercy, with the Lord there is plentiful deliverance. He comes to free Israel of all its iniquities."