On "O Radix Jesse"
“O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people,
At whom kings shall shut their mouths,
To whom the Gentiles shall seek:
Come and deliver us and tarry not.”
(Taken from The Anglican Breviary, C26)
“THE ROOT OF Jesse” is an odd phrase. As you well remember, Jesse was David's father and the Prophets wrote that the Messiah would come from the line of David (Micah 5:2). Of course, Our Lord was in David's lineage. But to say that Christ is “the root of Jesse” is like singing that silly song, “I'm my own Grandpa” -- except with far holier implications! This Holy Baby is the Father of his Fathers and Grand-Fathers, far back enough to Adam. In a real sense, Christ is his own Grandpa and we recognize this when we call Him “the Root of Jesse”.
IN MUCH THE same way, Christ is the root of all our desires towards God. The work of salvation does not begin with us, nor does it begin with the preachers whose feet are beautiful in carrying the good news. No, our salvation begins in God and the roots of our holy inclinations are found in Him. This was revealed to St. Julian of Norwich in her Fourteenth Showing, where Christ says to her:
“I am the ground of your beseeking:
first it is my will that you have it,
and then I make you want it:
now since I make you seek,
and then you do seek,
how should it then be that you should not have whom you seek?”
The Gentiles seek after this Root of Jesse, because they have been sought by God. And we, too, who come to the creche to adore Our Lord only adore Him because He has brought us to that place of adoration and we have followed Him. All of our Holy Desires begin in Him. As the Priest says at the Eucharistic Doxology, “Through Him, with Him and in Him . . .”
MAY CHRIST, THE Root of Jesse (He's His own grandpa!) and the Root of all our Desires continue to draw us up into the mystery of salvation.