Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Jesse Tree - Day 7: Jacob

Our online Jesse Tree is to help us prepare for Christ's coming by studying His roots and Salvation History. 

Jesse Trees follow the same general outline but I've found they are widely varied in some of the details. Some may have one day for Moses, others may spend 4 days on different aspects of his life. I'll be following the basic outline but, therefore, using my own discretion in a few spots.

My sources for days and symbols are Catholic CultureLoyola PressFaith Magazine, and A few beads short.  
Day 7: Jacob

Symbols: kettle, ladder

Jacob's Dream, Jusepe de Ribera
via Artbl
Look closely at the painting and right above Jacob's head you can see the wispy dream of the angelic ladder taking place. What I didn't remember until I reread this was that God actually speaks to Jacob in his dream. The ladder has been considered a symbol of reuniting earth to the divine, of the Christian life, and, of course, of Christ who is the true bridge between heaven and earth. I myself like to think about how God communicates in dreams in the Bible. It's a reminder that there is more to life than just the material world, that we often encounter God in ways others don't understand, and that he knows how to reach us when we don't expect it.

Below is a painting of one of my favorite scenes from Jacob's long and complex story. It's a bit that people often forget. When Jacob returns home with his wives and property, he's nervous to meet Esau again after having tricked him out of his birthright so long ago. Unexpectedly Esau comes forward happily to meet his brother. Esau doesn't get enough credit for this, I always think. And he is a type, perhaps, of the loving father in the Prodigal Son parable and, therefore, an example of God's lovingkindness and mercy to us no matter how deliberately we've sinned.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, 1624.
via Wikimedia Commons


  1. This year I've taken up the Jesse Tree again after a few years of extra-crazy holiday seasons. It's one of my favorite customs-we always did the readings at the dinner table when I was growing up at home. When trying to find a good set of ornaments for myself, I was frustrated that most Jesse Tree ornaments are designed for small children, a la felt, cartoonish pictures (it's a great Advent custom for kids, but still). I was so excited to discover that a friend of mine has put together a great set of DIY ornaments featuring fine art, which can be found here:

    1. Wow, those are terrific! Thanks for the heads up on those!