19 December 2006

O Radix Jesse!

The third antiphon, sung tonight, calls Jesus the "Root of Jesse," identifying him with his ancestral line as a son of David, the son of Jesse.
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.
Jesus' lineage as a son of Jesse is important for many reasons -- one of which is Jesse's own heritage. Jesse was the son of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Ruth herself is a significant figure: she was a Moabite woman and the widow of a Bethlehemite. When her mother-in-law Naomi chose to return to Bethlehem, Ruth insisted on going with her. In Israel, Ruth married Boaz and they became the parents of Obed (the father of Jesse). Had Ruth stayed in Moab and not accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem, the lineage of King David, the royal line in which Jesus was to follow, might never have come to be.
Ruth's fidelity to her mother-in-law and to the daily work of gleaning the fields for food were both significant factors which led to her becoming the wife of Boaz, the mother of Obed, the grandmother of Jesse and the great-grandmother of King David. As we await the birth of another little boy in the city of Bethlehem, let us ask for the grace to be faithful to the Lord in all that is asked of us each day -- for we can never estimate the far-reaching effects of our fidelity.

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