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O Radix Jesse

Marie Anne Torres

Monday, December 19, 2022

Come,
Flower of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
save us without delay!
When I think of this antiphon I can’t help but think of Mary. In fact, I would consider that this O Antiphon, O Radix Jesse, is inseparable from Mary. But O Radix Jesse, Root of Jesse, is a Messianic title – how is this possible? Let’s contemplate the second line: 
Flower of Jesse’s stem
This second line, at first, seems to be entirely focused on Jesse, King David’s father. But as all things do, it points directly to Christ through this genealogy, a genealogy that includes his Blessed Mother. It points to Jesus, through Mary. 
Flower of Jesse’s stem 
Mary is present in this line as Jesus’ Mother: Jesus who was born of her, made of her flesh and blood. When we speak of generations, going back to Jesse – and Jesus drawing forth, or springing forth as a flower, from these generations – we must think of Mary who “carried Him” and “brought Him forth” in her own special, divine way, a way entirely according to God’s plan. 
Flower of Jesse’s stem 
Jesus truly grew from Mary. In Her womb, from Her womb, He bloomed – the zenith of this blooming is His birth, which we celebrate.  In order for Jesus to grow, to flower, Mary had to be there. Mary is truly between these words:from Jesse to Jesus, she is there, in the middle, ever present. From Abraham to Jesus, she is there, in the same way.  Might we add, in order to revere Mary still more, these words from the Prophet Isaiah:
"Then a shoot will spring up from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch from his roots will bear fruit." (Isaiah 11:1)
Who is Mary in these words? She is the Branch, a Branch that bore fruit. When the Israelites longed for the Deliverer, for the fulfilment of God’s promises, could it be that they also longed for our Mother? She who would bear him and bring Him forth? All this we are left to contemplate.  
Flower of Jesse’s stem
What a beautiful Messianic title – and a profound O Antiphon – which honours Mother Mary, and her role in the history of God’s people.  And yet, she herself, as she always does in her holy way, points to her Son and opens up the way for us to revere Him.


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