O Wisdom, coming forth from the Most High, filling all creation and reigning to the ends of the earth.
Come and teach us the way of truth.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
The theme of the first Advent Antiphon in our series (see introduction here) is “wisdom”, or “sapientia”, in the original Latin. It is traditionally represented by a book, either open or closed. The Bible is full of allusions to “wisdom” and the desirability of obtaining it. One whole section of the Hebrew Scriptures is traditionally categorised as “wisdom literature” and includes books such as Job, the Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
Wisdom is not the same as intelligence, cleverness or knowledge. It often hunts with learned experience, sometimes painfully learned experience, as in the conversational phrase we sometimes use after some event that has brought us up short, that we are “older and wiser”.
Traditionally, wisdom has been associated with older people who, by definition, have had more time to experience life’s myriad complexities and learn from them than younger ones. But wisdom is no one’s monopoly, whatever their age, and one of its distinguishing characteristics, in the way that it is portrayed in the Bible, is its elusiveness. Wisdom is to be searched for and when she sometimes reveals herself with devastating clarity, that is a gift indeed.
Associating Jesus with the wisdom of God is saying something about his part in God’s plan for creation from the beginning. It is also a reference to his quiet omnipresence that we do not always detect as easily as we would like.
Something to read: Proverbs chapter 8 – Wisdom’s call
Something to wonder about: Where do you find wisdom when you need it? Are there any other sources of wisdom you might draw on, that perhaps haven’t occurred to you hitherto?
Something to take it further: Identify a problem that you have currently, or had recently. What do you think God might be telling you, both through the problem itself and the possible range of solutions? Listening, watching and waiting, all key themes for Advent, are close friends of wisdom. “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” (Proverbs 8:34) Apply some listening, watching and waiting to your problem – what has happened to the possible solutions?