'O Wisdom' is our evening antiphon to introduce Mary's Magnificat. Wisdom is the first word suggested to us to consider as we approach Christmas Day. For centuries before Jesus and for all centuries up to our own, people have sought the wisdom by which to live a happy life. For beings with intellect, there is the central role of thinking, reflecting, analysing, judging - so that the will can, as perfectly as possible, make the right choices for a happy life. Certainly there is often more to decision or choice than intellect; instinct comes to mind. But we have searched high and low for an knowledge of what will make us happy. Israel, under the influence of societies and cultures in its world, learned that the greatest wisdom is the wisdom of God. It is God best knows what will lead His creatures of happiness, and He communicated this good knowledge by providing us with his Law. What Moses learned was wisdom as God knows it. It is the Christian's claim that the supreme expression of the human achievement of happiness is Jesus - He who perfects the Law-revelation of God, witnesses to the value of this wisdom by dyiing in defense of it, shows by his sacrificial death the love that totally infuses God's wisdom, and gives us the very being of God as the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and inspire and strenghten us to choose the wise, divine, way to happiness. For all this, Jesus is called the Wisdom, and we celebrate the gift of an infant who, from birth to death and beyond, is our Wisdom.
The Gospel today speaks of the ancestry of Jesus, whose coming will be announced to Joseph. One of the most important witnesses of the early Church was its knowledge that Jesus was a descendent of David. As such, Jesus could, in a most material or physical way, be indentified as Messiah. For it was to David that the promise was made that it would be 'his house' where God would dwell. That is, God promised David that the ruler of Israel would be son of David, not anyone from another tribe of family of Israel. Jesus qualified as Messiah by virtue of his miracles, wisdom and holiness - qualities expected in the person God promised to us, qualities which assure our ultimate happiness as he exercises these virtues for us. But he also qualifies to be Messiah, for he is born of David.
John Kilgallen, SJ