Saturday, December 17, 2011

O Sapientia

Note: Two years ago, around this time, I wrote a series of reflections on the "O Antiphons." They are reflective of my context at the time, as I neared the end of my time at Christ Church and was also near the end of the call process that resulted in my call to my current cure at St. John's. Last year I read them over again to myself each day. This year, I thought I might re-post them. The context has changed, but the Antiphons remain moving. And perhaps something within each of these daily reflections is still worthwhile to hear. Here is the first one, for "O Sapientia." I'll repost the rest each day as we draw closer to the awesome, terrifying, glorious, and grace-filled feast of the Nativity.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, 
reaching from one end to the other mightily, 
and sweetly ordering all things: 
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

In a day when all most people want to hear is foolishness, when talking heads on radio and television spout partisan half-truths, more concerned with attaining power than with helping the powerless... in this sort of day, I'm longing for Sapientia.

Today the “O Antiphons” enter into Evening Prayer, to be said along with the Magnificat. And the first O Antiphon, the one appointed for today is “O Sapientia.” There is one English translation above, but most of us are more familiar with the paraphrase of the antiphon used in “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,”

O come, thou Wisdom from on high, 
who orderest all things mightily; 
to us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 

And listening to the world today, the cacophony of hatred and dissonance which assaults our souls, I'm longing for Wisdom. I'm longing for Sapientia. I'm listening for sapience. As the author of Proverbs declares,
Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. — Proverbs 1:20–23
Can you hear wisdom calling? Can you listen, can you pick out her strains in the cacophony of our culture?

I don't always feel like I can.

But I'm longing for it.

And in my own life, at this moment in my ministry, I'm listening. As I seek to discern God's will for my family, I'm listening. As I look at my calendar and see the end of June—the time when my tenure at this parish will end... I'm listening. I'm hoping to pick out her voice among the others. I'm longing for Wisdom.

Are you? Are you tired of scoffing? Are you sick of simplicity? Wisdom is kind and gentle, but she is also difficult and complex. She does not find satisfaction in easy answers or neat systems. She seeks to reveal the foundations of the world, she crafted the quantum physics that keep the whole cosmos balanced. She is not simple. She is that which men and women may spend their whole lives seeking, but her depths will go even further.

And yet, as God's Wisdom puts on human flesh, she will not go to the academy nor to the temple (except for the disrupting of their comfort). When God's wisdom puts on human flesh, she enters through a teenage girl giving birth in a barn and she leaves tortured, hanging on a cross near the garbage dump. She wears a beard and will touch those who you and I avoid. And she will heal our broken minds.

O Sapientia. Come.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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