Today features the third O Antiphon, O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
LATIN: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
ENGLISH: O Root of Jesse, that stands as a sign of the people, before whom kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.
Jesse is a slightly odd choice here as a name for Jesus, but it makes sense theologically. Jesse, also spelled Isai in the English translation of Hebrew Bible, was the father of king David, and the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. He was a farmer and sheep breeder in Bethlehem. David was the youngest of Jesse’s eight sons. The fact that he was the youngest is ideologically important. Throughout Biblical narratives, it is the youngest (or near youngest) son who inherits (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph etc.). David’s youngest son, Solomon, inherited the throne, and the reason the older ones did not is the main topic of much of the book of Samuel. I have written about this oddity in my forthcoming book, The Genesis Option. The issue is a little complicated and you should read the book when it is published for the full story. Briefly, David was king of Judah, and Judah was subordinate to the larger kingdom of Israel. Yet . . . it was Judah that ultimately survived and prospered, whilst the nation of Israel (the northern 10 tribes) was utterly wiped out and dispersed by the Assyrian empire when it got too high and mighty and refused to pay tribute. These are now called the Lost Tribes of Israel. Judah – the smallest and least significant – just submitted and hunkered down until Assyria went away. Thus . . . the youngest (and weakest) is sometimes in the strongest position overall.
The root of Jesse makes choosing a recipe easy – root vegetables!! I would make a roasted vegetable stew. The trick will be to have a good variety of vegetables, including unusual ones. So . . . by all means use parsnips, carrots, and turnips. But make sure to include something along the lines of parsley root (a great favorite), and celery root.
Cut the vegetables into bite-sized chunks and place them in one layer on a baking dish (or two if need be). Coat generously with olive oil, and roast for 45 minutes in a very hot oven – as hot as it will go. Turn frequently to ensure even browning.
Sauce for the stew is cook’s choice. For Christmas, I set a rich beef stock on a slow simmer in a heavy pot. Then I season it with cloves and allspice. I also add leeks and garlic. Thicken with breadcrumbs and then add the vegetables. They do not need further cooking, just heating through. So, stir them thoroughly in the sauce and serve. This is a mighty dish for a winter night.