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atreeofjesseAs we move forward in the history of God’s people and toward the celebration of Christmas, we encounter the person of Jesse in the O Antiphons. Jesse was a farmer and sheep breeder in Bethlehem who had eight sons, the youngest of whom was David, chosen by God as King of Israel. That the family of David would endure forever was an article of faith in monarchic circles (2 Samuel 7), supported by the fact that his dynasty had occupied the throne in unbroken succession for over four centuries. The genealogy of Jesus in chapter one of Matthew’s gospel shows the direct line from King David to Jesus through his legal father, Joseph. More than a statement of physical genealogy, then, Son of David is a Messianic title. When people referred to Jesus as Son of David (17 times in the New Testament), they were not only speaking of physical genealogy.  Rather, they meant that he was the long-awaited Deliverer, the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Our reflection for today may include gratitude for our own family genealogy as well the 2,000 years of Christian history initiated by Jesus and his genealogy, spanning 14 generations from Abraham to David and 14 from David to Jesus himself.

O Root of Jesse, You stand as ensign of mankind, before You kings shall keep silence and to You all nations shall have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.

O Root of Jesse, Tree of Life, you sprout from the royal line of King David. Yet you are the king of kings. All nations do you homage. Come, take root in us and bring us to flower.