01 Dec The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree – The Family Tree of Jesus!
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse
and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (Isaiah 11:17)
This text inspired an American nun in 1949 to develop the family tree theme into the Jesse Tree – Jesse was the father of David, an ancestor of Jesus. The Jesse tree is decorated with symbols of Jesus’ ancestors and events in their lives, as recorded in the Bible. As Catholics, we are invited to believe that all of these found their fulfilment in Jesus Christ.
This Advent, we’ll have a Jesse tree in both Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Patrick’s Churches. These will be decorated by some of our P4 pupils. They will colour in the images that go on the tree and a ‘Book of Images’ will be placed beside each tree. The tree ‘takes root’ on December 1st and remains in the church until Christmas Eve.
The simplest images are the most effective. Starting at the base of the tree we place symbols of creation and as the days and weeks go by other symbols are added, representing God’s loving care of His chosen people and their deliverance from bondage.
The Jesse tree is a celebration of the family tree of Jesus Christ, prepared in Advent and enjoyed at Christmas.
(Adapted from ‘Celebrating the Season of Advent’, edited by Eltin Griffin, O. Carm, Columba Press, 2004)
The Jesse Tree – Day by Day
This section will tell you what symbols we added to the tree this past Sunday and what they mean.
Day 1: Earth
We begin with Creation, the birth of life, beginning of time. In the creation of world and humanity, God gave the first and universal witness to His almighty love and His wisdom, the first proclamation of the “plan of His loving goodness,” which finds its goal in the new creation of Christ. (See Genesis 1-2)
Day 2: Sun, Moon and Stars
Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light. (See Genesis 1-2)
Day 3: Adam & Eve
Adam and Eve are the first ancestors of the human race. Christ is called the “second” or “new Adam” because He ushered in the new creation by forgiving sin and restoring humanity to the grace of God’s friendship lost by original sin. (See Genesis 2:7-9; 18-24)
Day 4: The Apple in the Garden
The parents of the human race, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden. Even after this sin, we were not abandoned by God. God promises a Messiah and Redeemer. He tells us of a “New Adam” who will have victory over sin. (See Genesis 3:1-7, 9, 14-29, 23-24)
Day 5: Noah and the Ark
A saviour, Noah preserved the natural life of all within the Ark; Christ brings supernatural life to humanity and preserves that life within His Mystical Body the Church. (See Genesis 6:5-8; 7:11-16; 8:15-16; 9:12-13 -2)
Day 6: The Rainbow
When Noah finally left the Ark and settled on dry land, he built an altar to worship the Lord who had saved him. God placed a rainbow in the sky as token of his resolve to never visit such a disaster over the face of the earth again. (See Genesis 6:5-8; 7:11-16; 8:15-16; 9:12-13 -2)
Day 7: Abraham
Abraham is our father in faith. He is the patriarch of Israel with whom God made a covenant which promised him land in which to live and many descendants, a great people for whom the Lord would be their God. With the advent of Christ, the people of Israel would serve as the root to which the Gentiles would be grafted by their coming to believe.
(Genesis 6:5-8; 7:11-16; 8:15-16; 9:12-13 -2)
Day 8: Isaac
Isaac was a great type, or symbol of Christ. Both carried up a mount the wood on which they were to be sacrificed. Isaac was the only son of Abraham; Christ was the only begotten son of God. (Genesis 22:1-2, 6-13, 15-19).
In a vision, Jacob (son of Isaac) saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, with angels descending and ascending. Christ, the Incarnate God, is the Ladder reuniting earth to heaven, humanity to God. (Genesis 28:12-13).
Day 10: Joseph
Joseph’s brothers were furious that their father favoured their younger brother above all of them, and when Jacob gave Joseph an expensive, many-coloured coat, they conspired against him.
Like Christ, Joseph was sold for silver, but the hand of God led him to become a leader of the nation of Egypt (Genesis 37:3-4, 12-24, 28; 45:3-13).
Day 11: Moses
Moses was cast into a basket in the river and found by a princess. He grew up to be a prince of Egypt. Moses led the Israelites, the Chosen people, out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Later, he received the Ten Commandments from the hand of God on Mount Sinai. God appeared to Moses in the form of a bush, which burned but was not consumed, a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Christ. (Exodus 31:16-18; 3:2-5)
Day 12: Samuel
The lamp is a symbol for the Word of God. Samuel became a prophet, the light of God to His people. Sacrifice was offered daily on the Jewish altar of holocaust — a type of the Christian altar and the daily sacrifice of the Mass. (1 Kings 3:2-4)
Day 13: Jesse
Jesse was the father of King David. Jesse was the ancestor of many kings, most importantly the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
(1 Samuel 16:1, 4-5, 11-1)
Day 14: David
The six-pointed star is the emblem of the Royal House of David even to this day. Christ, who is born of the House of David, can truly claim this emblem as His own. (2 Samuel 5:1-5)
Day 15: Solomon
Solomon is honoured in Scripture as the wisest monarch. Though he used a real sword to make his point, he used his wisdom, the sword of justice, to divide truth from lies. God foretold that David’s son and heir, Solomon, would be the one to build a temple to the Lord God. Solomon did in fact complete the construction of the temple during his reign. (2 Samuel 12:24, 1Kings 3:16-28, 1Kings 5-7)
Day 16: Joseph
The Bible tells us very little of Joseph, but from the early chapters of Matthew and Luke we glean that he was a carpenter by trade, a just and pious man, and a most excellent husband and father. The genealogy given in Matthew traces his line from Abraham and King David.
Joseph now accepted without question the two-fold office with which he was charged, protector of Mary’s honour and foster father of the child that was to be born. (Matthew 1:1-17, 1:18-25)
Day 17: Mary
The Virgin Mary, chosen Mother of the Redeemer, is robed in the splendour of her stainless innocence, and clothed with the beauty of one redeemed in Christ and prepared to receive Him in her womb. The lily is a symbol of Our Lady’s purity, though becoming a mother she remained a virgin. (Revelation 12; Song 4:7)
Day 18: John the Baptist
The shell and water drops are a symbol of baptism generally, and particularly of the baptism of Christ. The shell alone may also be used as a symbol for pilgrimage (Matthew 3:1-12).
“Tomorrow, I Will Come”
In the last eight days of advent, the Church uses the O Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for these last Jesse tree patterns from December 17 to 23 are based on the O Antiphons.
When the Benedictine monks developed the O Antiphons they put them in a special order. Each of the antiphons refer to a prophecy of Isaiah. The O Antiphons are so amazing because the first letter of each one creates a meaningful acronym.
Take the first letter of the last title of each antiphon: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia. When you spell it out the Latin words ero cras are formed. Ero Cras means: “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the antiphons bring a special meaning to advent in two very special ways.
Day 19: O Wisdom!
“O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”
Day 20: O Lord!
“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”
Day 21: O Flower of Jesse’s Stem!
“O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”
Day 22: O Key of David!
“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”
Day 23: O Radiant Dawn!
“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
Day 24: O King of all the Nations!
“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”
Day 25: Jesus is Emmanuel!
“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah had prophesied, “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
Christmas Day – The Tree in Full Blossom!
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.”