Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on today’s Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as the Root of Jesse.(If you prefer to listen, click the ‘play’ button in the box below)

O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the nations;
Kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim.
O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

The Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Isaiah over 700 years before Christ said “a shoot springs from the stump of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots, on him the spirit of the Lord rests”. Jesse was the father of King David. Isaiah must have seen in a vision a sapling springing from the apparently dead stump of Jesse. He lived about 300 years after David and the Davidic dynasty did not appear very hopeful. So it is on a future king that Isaiah sees the Spirit of the Lord come down.

This future King, whom we know to be the Lord Jesus, Son of David, is to be “a sign for the nations” but “a sign of contradiction” as Simeon prophesied about the child Jesus, which is borne out in Isaiah Chapter 53, “Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground … a thing despised and rejected by men” – as indeed he was in his Passion. In the life of Jesus the ordinary people acclaimed him. He healed and fed multitudes but the “Kings”, the authorities did not acclaim him – they were “silent before him” as the antiphon says, not acknowledging him even despising him.

In our own day his Church has come under censure and is suffering. But the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church and in the world. To give one example – he is bringing the leaders of Religions together to unite against the secularising forces at work in Europe today. Recently the British Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, spoke at the Gregorian University in Rome calling for Jews and Christians to unite to save the soul of Europe. He said “the political leaders of Europe are coming together to try to save the Euro, the religious leaders must do so for Europe’s soul”. Let us implore the Holy Spirit that this may come about as we cry out to the Root of Jesse, Jesus Son of David, “O come and deliver us and do not delay”.

O Radix Jesse