By Sister Deborah Watson
When I was in the novitiate, an artist in my profession group covered an entire cork wall of our Russell College library in Burlingame, California with an illustration of the Old Testament exaltation of Wisdom. I don’t remember the details, but the impact of the swirling motion, vibrant color and dynamic design never left me. When I hear the O Antiphon we are praying today, “O Wisdom, that comes from the mouth of the Most High…”, themes from that wall resonate in me: Wisdom personified, the feminine face of God present from the creation of the world; Wisdom springing forth as Logos, the Word made flesh among us; Wisdom that informs and inspires hope.
But as I write this reflection: Israeli forces continue their attack on the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza; Argentina is on the brink of a chaotic and contentious presidential election; 5.6 million people have been displaced by civil war in Sudan; the war in Ukraine drags on with no end in sight…
Though we might expect that by the time you read this, the global situation will be better, the Wisdom we call out for is not naivete. It is the Wisdom of the heart, prepared, in darkness, to hope against all hope. It is the practical knowledge, “prudence” in the original Latin, that is in stark contrast to the polarization we experience today where persons adopt and live out of an ideology that violates truth, ordinary human compassion and even common sense. Wisdom is that discretion or discerning judgement that enables us to hold polarities in tension, to live in the grey areas of life, to embrace paradox. Wisdom calls us into Mystery of Love. It allows us to accept the wheat and the weeds, trusting that one day all will be brought to Light.
The soothing melody and the exultant hope of the chant, in either its Latin form or as we know it in O Come O Come Emmanuel, create in us the confidence to offer our Advent prayer of joyful expectation.
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in in its ways to go.
And ultimately it is Jesus, the Christ, the Word, the Wisdom that comes from the mouth of the Most High, who will show us the way of Wisdom. So, this Advent 2023 we dare to hope that God will be with this crazy chaotic world. Come, O Come Emmanuel, Come O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!