November 29, 2020 - Pastor Mesage05/18/2021
“O come, thou Wisdom from on high, who ord’rest all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go” (O COME, O COME EMMANUEL).
Probably the best known hymn of Advent, O COME, O COME EMMANUEL, sums up in seven cryptic, haunting verses the meaning of the season by expressing our deep longing as God’s people for the coming of his Son and, with him, our salvation. These seven verses, however, weren’t just made up for the song. The hymn is a collection of seven antiphons, or opening verses, for the Marian hymn, the MAGNIFICAT, which is sung every evening by the Church and which has special antiphons for the evenings of December 17-23, leading up to our celebration of Christmas. These special verses are called the ‘O Antiphons’ due to the fact that each one begins by addressing Christ by a different prophetic title drawn from the Old Testament, each beginning with ‘O’.
By reflecting on these verses, we come to a fuller understanding of who Christ is and deepen our desire for his coming, in our celebration of his first coming at Christmas, in the many ways he comes to us in our daily lives, and in his future coming when God’s plan in Christ will be complete. Toward that end, I will reflect on each of the seven verses in this column throughout the Advent season, beginning today with the second verse, which is actually the first of the O Antiphons, ‘O Wisdom’.
In the Old Testament, Wisdom is presented as an expression of the mind of God, the embodiment of his knowledge and understanding revealed in the perfect order of creation and the perfect justice of his law. Those who seek and embrace divine Wisdom bring their minds into conformity with God’s and benefit richly from Wisdom’s blessings, while those who reject Wisdom stray into folly and suffer the curses that follow (Proverbs 2). This Wisdom is personified as being present with God and active in his plan for creation: “The Lord begot me, the firstborn of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth...When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep...Then I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day” (Proverbs 8:22-23, 27, 30).
In the New Testament, Jesus is presented as the embodiment of divine Wisdom, with perfect knowledge of the Father and his will which he comes to share with those who listen (Matthew 11:25-27). He teaches with God’s own authority and reveals the inner mysteries of God’s law; those who hear his words and act on them are richly blessed while those who fail to listen and act on his words are doomed (Matthew 7:24-29). Most clearly, John identifies Jesus with divine Wisdom as the expression, or Word, of God’s creative will: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:15).
Divine Wisdom, with whom and through whom God creates all things and holds them in being, took flesh -000 years ago in Jesus to reveal to us the fullness of God’s truth and will. Only by embracing and living by that Wisdom can we walk in the light and attain the fullness of life at the end of creation, when God’s plan, revealed in Jesus, will be complete. We pray therefore during Advent for Jesus to come and lead us to that day in the light and life of God’s Wisdom.
Fr. Marc Stockton