Dec.17-O antiphon-O Wisdom

Beginning with December 17 and running through December 23, Evening Prayer of the breviary includes prayers that begin with 'O'.  These are prayers, or more specifically antiphons, which indicate titles given to Jesus of Nazareth.  The first of these, that of December 17, is 'O Wisdom'.  The  antiphon goes on the speak very briefly of the wisdom by which the world was created; what a wisdom that is, as science over the centuries and human experiences have shown us!  The wisdom of God is also identified with Jesus; he is God's wisdom.  In this sense, Jesus represents, both in his human life and in his teachings about life, the mind of God.  Human beings have searched from earliest times for a wisdom which will make them happy, complete, perfect.  Many are the suggestions about the true wisdom, whether it be those of us 'common people' or of philosophical schools.  As the word 'philosophy' suggests, it is a love of wisdom that leads one to happiness; we cannot ignore the demands of our minds to know the truth - as our minds distinguish us from all other creatures and makes us greater than theym, so the abuse of our minds is the destruction of our human nature.  To know the truth, then, is to take a major step towards perfection and happiness, and completes our very nature.  Israel offered its own understanding of wisdom; it is formulated especially as a code of laws, the Mosaic laws of the Covenant.  Commands in form they are wisdom for the conduct of life.  They are many in the formulation of the Mosaic code, but any and every law in that code is justified by love of God and love of neighbor; laws make sense only if they are precisions (and not in any way departures) from those 'greatest laws'.  The coming of Jesus represented the most perfect understanding of God's wisdom, of what God thinks gives a human being perfection and happiness.  As noted above, his teaching means to convey the very mind of God - and who knows better than God how a human being reaches perfection.  But Jesus' very life is also wisdom.  Without saying a word, Jesus lives a life of such dedication and love of his Father that his life becomes wisdom for those who can interpret it properly.  The Gospels concentrate many verses about the public life of Jesus; it is a life which knows only one God, knows that life forever comes only from obedience to that God, and knows that God loves him with no exception ever.  We can trace this perfect life with God throughout his every choice in his public life.  With St. Paul, we can concentrate particularly on the death and resurrection of Jesus, wherein we learn by what means God's wisdom brings about our happiness.  This moment in the life of Jesus teaches a wisdom few people can accept: it is life of such love and devotion that even crucifixion cannot cause unhappiness, and it is a life in which crucifixion, because of the love which makes one accept it, leads unerringly to eternal happiness and perfection.  Jesus can be called Wisdom, then, both because he, of all people, taught most clearly the mind of God for human perfection, and because he lived the life of love which is the only assurance, but the perfect assurance, of eternal happiness.  O Wisdom!

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