As we continue to go through the season of Advent we will hear some of the prophecies of the Old Testament, today we begin by hearing from the Prophet Isaiah. He tells us
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.Isaiah 11:1
What is Isaiah speaking about and why does he use this language of a sprout from a stump? Isaiah is talking about the coming of the Messiah, and interestingly enough his qualities mirror the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that we all received at our Baptism and strengthened at our confirmation. It is just missing one gift, that of piety.
This messiah will too restore the kingdom of David. Jesse was the Father of King David, and this prophecy is saying the coming Messiah will come from the same source as did King David. If you know about the history of the Kingdom of Israel, you will know that before Isaiah arrived on the scene, the kingdoms broke into too and the united kingdom ended. The kingdoms split around 930 BC, and Isaiah lived about 200 years after this split. Isaiah is telling his readers that from David’s line will come a new king who will restore a peaceful kingdom.
You may have noticed though that the prophecy of peace on earth has yet to come to pass on this earth? Was Isaiah correct about Jesus but wrong about the future peace on earth, even peace that involves animals? Yes, and No, I believe Isaiah is using poetic language to explain the peace that the Messiah’s coming kingdom will have. In one way the second coming of Jesus fulfills this prophecy. However, there is another way the fulfillment of this prophecy has already happened. We must look at verses 11 and following to understand why it has been fulfilled.
On that day, the Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria and Egypt, Pathros, Ethiopia, and Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the isles of the sea. He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel. The dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth.Isaiah 11:11-12
Without getting into detail about the meaning and location of all the places mentioned the simple fact is that this new Messiah will raise from all corners of the earth the remnant of Israel. Has our Lord done this? Yes he has, and that is found in the Catholic Church! Our Lord has restored Israel in his Kingdom which is the Church.
When you hear about the shoot from the stump of Jesse, remember that this isn’t only about the coming of Jesus, it is too about the coming of his kingdom which is already here among us!