Praised be Jesus Christ! December 19, another Great Advent Antiphon to be pondered before us – let us hear it performed by Father Thomas Jarosz.
Today’s antiphon, this great cry for the Messiah who is to come and set man free, refers us to two passages in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In Chapter 11 we read, “A twig will sprout from Jesse’s trunk, a sprout will sprout from his root.” Who is Jesse? Jesse is King David’s father. This messianic prophecy thus indicates that the future Messiah will come from the royal lineage of David. This coming king will not only be another offspring on David’s throne, but will be the new, perfect David who will begin the reign of God’s Kingdom. Isaiah himself shows this uniqueness and uniqueness of the new king. Let us hear how the prophet describes him, how he describes his kingdom: “The spirit of the Lord will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and fortitude, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will like the fear of the Lord. He will not judge out of appearances, or judge according to rumors, but will defend the poor justly, and settle the causes of the poor with equity. He will smite the Earth with the rod of his mouth, and kill the evildoers with the breath of his lips. Justice will be a girdle on his loins, and faithfulness a girdle on his loins. Then the wolf will stay with the lamb, the panther will lie down next to the goat, the calf and the lion will graze together, and the little boy will lead them; the cow and the bear will live in friendship, their cubs will lie together, and the lion will eat straw like an ox; the baby will play in the cobra’s hole, the baby will put his hand into the snake’s hideout. They will not do evil or harm in all my holy mountain; for the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters fill the sea. On that day, the Root of Jesse will stand as a sign to the people.” In the antiphon we hear that this new king will be a sign to the nations; kings will be silent before him, and peoples will pray to him. Here we have a reference to the 52nd chapter of Isaiah, the “Fourth Song of the Servant of the Lord”: “The kings will shut their mouths to him for they will see something they have not been told and understand something they have never heard of.” The Prophet in his “Song” presents us with God’s Servant who will suffer, but it will not be suffering for the sake of suffering – in total obedience to God, the Servant will make his life a sacrifice to make up for the sins of many other people. The predictions from the Book of Isaiah find their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. He is a descendant of David – we are told by two evangelists: Luke and Matthew. They both write down the lineage of Jesus, a lineage in which we can find both King David and Jesse – his father – as the ancestors of our Master of Nazareth. It is on Jesus that the Lord’s spirit rested, He is a sign of salvation for the nations, kings will remain silent from Him, because they will see His Passion, an atonement for our sins. Something unimaginable – God, mad out of love for man, lays down his life for him on the cross. This antiphon shows us the greatest meaning of God’s Incarnation – Jesus comes to become our king. But His reign is not marked by earthly honors, wealth, and unlimited human power. His reign is first and foremost a service – a service to man, a service that will lead him to the tree of the cross. In this suffering, in this death, he will give his life to reconcile people with God. His death brings redemption to everyone – that is good news for us! We are all invited to accept this gift of God – God’s Redemption, to follow in our Master’s footsteps through life.