Saturday December 17, 2022
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for today:
O Wisdom proceeding from
the mouth of the Most High,
The Alpha and Omega of all insight,
Who show us all things framed between their beginning and their end;
Who place all goods in perspective under the strong, agreeable rule of truth;
Come, teach us the life-giving way,
Come, show us the path of salvation.
In the last week before Christmas the Church puts a special edge on her anticipation. By addressing Jesus in our liturgy each day for seven days under one of seven specially chosen titles (called the "O antiphons"), we focus our hope and our thoughts on what He is coming to be for us: what He wants to be and will be for us if we allow Him.
The first of these titles is "Wisdom." Jesus is the wisdom of God made flesh and presented to us in human form so that we might see in Him and learn from Him the "life-giving way" -- that way of living which leads to the fullness of life both on this earth and forever.
In the Scriptures "wisdom" means the knowledge of how to live. The "wise" are those who know the art of living well, who order their lives in a way that leads to happiness. They are not deceived by illusory values; they know where true happiness is found and what it consists in. They are blessed with the gift of distinguishing between good and evil.
This wisdom does not come through human reflection alone; it is a gift of God. Only the Creator, the Designer of our human natures, can teach us how to get the most out of the equipment He has given us. Even more obviously, only the God who lifts us up to share in His own divine nature by grace can teach us how to live on the level of grace, which is the level of God. That is why we pray today to the "Creator and Redeemer of the human race" that we might "share the divinity of Christ" -- and not just in fact, but by living like Him in conscious awareness, attitude and action. This is what it means to be "wise" in the age of grace.
All of us are born into what Scripture calls the "darkness" of this world. We pick up from our society certain distorted attitudes, wrong values, false priorities and destructive patterns of behavior. Before we are old enough to judge for ourselves, desires and fears are programmed into us by slogans and trends in our society which incline us to sin. Every human teacher or culture is infected to some degree. There is no undistorted light to live by in this world. We "sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (see Isaiah 9:1, Matthew 4:16).
But in Jesus God responded to the need of the waiting world by coming Himself to be Wisdom incarnate -- the embodied example of how to live. Now that Jesus has come, "the light shines in the darkness." In Jesus God does not just tell us; He shows us how to live life "to the full." Wisdom, the secret of how to get the most out of life, is ours for the asking. It is ours for the looking, because in the life of Jesus Wisdom was embodied in human actions and choices. It is ours for the reading, because in the teaching of Jesus divine Wisdom is put into human words. Wisdom is taking disciples.
Jesus is the life-giving Way, the never-misleading Truth and the fullness of Life made visible. If we follow Him we will not walk in the perilous darkness of our cultural assumptions, but will be guided by the Light of Life (see John 1:1-9; 8:12). All we need to do is read and reflect, listen, believe and act.
Jesus is also a challenge to our faith. The Way He teaches is a shocking absurdity to the distorted intelligence of this world (see 1 Corinthians 1:17 to 2:16). We cannot easily accept the example of His life as what we want for ourselves and for our children.
That is why, the Church invites us to pray repeatedly, "O Wisdom proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, come! Teach us the life-giving way!"
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry