O Antiphon | December 19
From December 17 through December 23, special antiphons known as the O Antiphons are chanted during the Liturgy of the Hours. As Father William Saunders explains, each of the O Antiphons refers to one of the titles of Jesus and the prophecies from Isaiah about the Messiah. During this week leading up to Christmas Eve, we will reflect on the O Antiphons and the scriptural sources that Fr. Saunders has identified.
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
In his prophecies about the ancestry of the Messiah, Isaiah said, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Isaiah 11:1) and “On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious” (Isaiah 11:10). These prophecies and today’s antiphon refer to Jesse, the father of King David. It had been prophesied that the Messiah would be in David’s lineage.
Today’s antiphon reminds us of God’s meticulous planning for bringing Jesus into the world. God chose the lineage of His only begotten Son with great care, so that it fulfilled everything He had told and promised to Israel. This, as the antiphon says, is a “sign of God’s love for all his people.”
The final line of the antiphon, “come to save us without delay!” is a good representation of the urgency we feel at this point in Advent, and also perhaps at this time in our lives. When our hearts are open and ready for Jesus, it feels impossible to wait for Him. It is a great comfort and blessing that we can receive Jesus in the Eucharist until He comes again in glory.