December 19th: O Radix Jesse (Branch of Jesse)

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O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

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.

Are these antiphons starting to sound familiar??? That’s because they probably should 😉

That’s right, this popular hymn from the 19th century is based on the O antiphons 🙂

Tonight we reflect on God’s promise to David that his line will never die……and that the Son of God also shares his heritage with the sons of man. With Mary’s yes, our Lord unites himself forever to humanity. Like the song says, the Root of Jesse comes to free us not only from our enemies…but from the very Devil that tries to ensnare us.

Satan–properly understood– is not the man with a pointy beard, horns and a pitchfork…..but rather the adversary who tempts us, and slowly bends our own wills to do what WE want to do rather than what our Father wishes for us.

In our weakness, we sometimes choose the way that gives us instant gratification…the impulse that allows us to prosper at the expense of others. The Branch of Jesse comes to free us from that bias….and opens to us a new way of salvation.

The babe born in the manger does not stay that way….he grows, he teaches, and becomes the Lamb of God bloodied on a Cross….to rise again and to break the bonds of death. Christus Victor! Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and be born in our hearts. +

Morning Prayer: April 15th


Psalm: 22
Old Testament: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13
New Testament: Romans 11:13-24

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root* of the olive tree, do not vaunt yourselves over the branches. If you do vaunt yourselves, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you (Romans 11:17-18)

In using the metaphor of an olive tree, Paul makes it very clear that the mission to the Gentiles is not something new….but as an extension of Israel’s divine call to be the people of God.

Through the growth of new branches, the Apostle hopes that the Jewish people will have the veil lifted from their eyes. In witnessing the Gentiles streaming to the Christian movement, they would see that Jesus was indeed the anointed one foretold in the prophets.

Interestingly, we have yet another discussion of roots in Jeremiah:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:5-7)

In Exile, the Jews found themselves on the outside looking in. As foreigners which had to lay down roots in a foreign land and hope to prosper……they were not always the strong tree.

So what does that say for us??? I think one of the messages is that–spiritually–we are called to lay down roots wherever we are. Just as the Son of Man has no place to rest his head, so are his disciples called to always be flexible, on the move and adaptable.

There is nothing wrong with laying down roots. That’s a natural human impulse. It allows us some level of comfort, and ability to spread the gospel without being anxious about how we will eat, and where we will find shelter. My hope is that our roots may be healthy ones…..nurtured by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit; so that if we have to move and make changes, the transplant will lead to ever more abundant growth. +

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