O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: Veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, who stands as a sign for the peoples, before whom kings will fall silent, whom the nations will entreat: Come and free us now, do not tarry.
The title, Root of Jesse, is taken from Isaiah's description of the return of the exiles, "That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples" (Is 11:10). For the people of Israel, the exile has ended the possibility of the succession of David's royal line; the text from Isaiah, however, points directly to the annunciation, where the angel Gabriel tells Mary that "the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David: he will rule over the House of Jacob and his reign will have no end" (Lk 1:32-4). The Root of Jesse, for the Israelites, is Yahweh, who will be faithful to his people Israel; for those of us ensconced in the preparations for Christmas, the Root of Jesse is the soon-to-be-born Messiah. The smallness of the "root" out of which the servant in Isaiah is born is not altogether unlike the humble origins of the Messiah who is the son of a carpenter.
The nations entreat this great descendant of David, before whom kings fall silent. They seek him; they await his saving help. How often do we actively seek God in the quotidian activities of our life? It can be a great temptation to seek God only when we feel that our human powers or talents are insufficient to complete an undertaking. Do we seek God and his will in the ordinary dealings of our day: in how we relate to those with whom we work or live, in the manner in which we apply ourselves to our job, in anticipating the need of a neighbor, etc.? Let us join the nations in seeking the Lord. Let us, as we draw closer to Christmas, set out for Bethlehem by our careful attention to the Lord's will in our daily encounters with others. Many of our students wear bracelets or carry key chains that say, "WWJD?" (short for "What would Jesus Do?"). Would that they knew just what a jewel they wear in sporting those bracelets!