17 December 2008

O Sapientia

O Wisdom coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, and stretching from end to end of creation, setting all things in order with strong and gentle hand: Come and teach us the path of true judgement.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.(Proverbs 1.7)

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ (1 Corinthians 1.30, 31)

In the Old Testament Wisdom is presented as a divine attribute, often personified as the beloved daughter who was with God before creation. She is the breath of God’s power; the shining of God’s (transforming) glory: images that are often applied to the Holy Spirit.

By addressing Jesus in these terms, this antiphon recalls the opening of John’s Gospel where he is presented as the divine Logos, the Word/thought/reason of God, who is intimately involved in creation; the one who sets ‘all things in order with strong and gentle hand’. If God can be said to have had a blueprint for creation, that blueprint was Christ.

And in response to this affirmation of Christ as the Wisdom of God, the antiphon concludes with the petition, ‘Come and teach us the path of true judgement.’ It recognizes that genuine human wisdom is rooted in the terrifying but fascinating mystery of God.

I cannot think unless I have been thought
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken
I cannot teach except as I am taught
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneath the words with which I speak
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me
O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me
O Memory of time, reminding me
My Ground of Being, always grounding me
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring
Come to me now, disguised as everything.

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