O root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the nations, kings will keep silence before you for whom the nations long.
Come and save us and delay no longer.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
You can listen to this antiphon, sung in its original Latin form, here.
In a world where much of what we see around us in the media is bad news, in one form or another, it is good to be reminded that God is often a lot more optimistic than we are. The currency of Christianity is hope, even when things look grim. Hope is a fragile plant that can easily be destroyed by inclement weather or careless gardening.
God wants us to nurture hope in our lives, both in a macro sense and in a micro one. That isn’t always easy. This antiphon reminds us that we are not on our own and that God is always ahead of us, with new life and new growth around the corner. “The word of the Lord came to me, “What is it that you see, Jeremiah?” “An almond in early bloom,” I answered. “You are right,” said the Lord to me, “for I am early on the watch to carry out my purpose,” (Jeremiah 1:11-12)
The symbol traditionally associated with this antiphon is a flowering branch. It emphasises that Jesus comes to the world as a catalyst to release hope and life for humanity, even in the most hopeless situation. It is never too late for that to happen in us, even if we have grown hardened and cynical because life has been difficult. As Job puts it, “There is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9)
Something to read: Isaiah 55:6-13
Something to wonder about: Am I an optimist about life or a pessimist? God doesn’t want us to pretend that things are good when they aren’t but he does expect us to look for hope. What are your hopes for the future? How might we structure them to be both realistic and yet also ambitious?
Something to take it further: Go for a winter walk – along a footpath, up on the downs or just round the block where you live. Notice the leafless trees. Some of them already have the beginning signs of next season’s growth on them. Ask God to bless your hopes for the coming year and show you where they are already growing in your life.