Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Today begins the final stretch of Advent, at the end of which we will welcome Christ born in Bethlehem. In the liturgical prayer of the Church, the "O Antiphons" are recited prior to and after the Magnificat during Vespers, and each one addresses Jesus in terms of his Old Testament titles.

Wisdom is more than just knowledge. It is not something gained merely from experience and age because some of the oldest and smartest people I know lack wisdom. Wisdom in its purest form is perfected through faith. It is a human characteristic which originates in the fear of the Lord, which is to say in the realization that we are nothing without him who called us into existence, and when we realize this, we stand in awe of the majesty of the Creator. We realize our lowliness, humbly bow in love, and desire to understand our world through seeking God. This is wisdom: desiring knowledge through love of and seeking the Lord.

The wisdom from the mouth of the Lord is Jesus himself. He is the Logos or the meaning/reason/Word through whom all things came to be. Without Jesus nothing would exist, for he is the eternal Word of the Father present from all eternity. God spoke and through him all that is came into existence and order was brought to the chaos which was in the beginning. It is through Christ that the material universe, things visible and invisible, are ordered mightily yet gently. God knows our need for order in our lives, both individually and as a society. Wisdom shows us the way to order things with conviction and strength while at the same time showing concern for the good of the individual or society. This is the wisdom which is Christ. He has absolute power yet cares for his people like a shepherd cares for his sheep.

The focus of the antiphon is summed up in the concept of prudence. Prudence is an act whereby we choose what is good rather than simply avoiding what is not. It is through the grace of God and his wisdom that we are able to recognize those things that will help us to salvation while avoiding those things which put our relationship with God in peril. It is a function of the theological concept of Charity where we put love of God before all else. So we beg Christ to come and to teach us the way to choose wisely so that our lives will be ordered toward God.

Father, all-powerful God,
your eternal Word took flesh on our earth
when the Virgin Mary placed her life
at the service of your plan.
Lift our minds in watchful hope
to hear the voice which announces his glory
and open our minds to receive the Spirit
who prepares us for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


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