Come, O flower of Jesse's root
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." Isaiah 11.1
Today's O-antiphon requires explanation. Isaiah the prophet ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah during a period of national emergency. The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, who came as far as the gates of Jerusalem. The godly King Hezekiah prayed them away but Isaiah predicted that another foreign force would prevail, to punish the people for their sins, as the Babylonians eventually did.
In the middle of all this, Isaiah also foresaw a day when God would intervene on behalf of his people, through a descendant of King David. Jesse was David's father and Solomon's grandfather. Jesus was descended from Jesse, through David and Solomon, and so he is the "flower of Jesse's root". When Jesus arrived it was not only to save Judah and Israel but the whole world. Today we inhabit challenging times too. We can take heart from the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy in Jesus' first coming and in its further realisation in Jesus' promised coming again.