Beginning today the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas is offering a daily reflection on the great O Antiphons. These are probably most well known as the verses of the Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel. Each verse is a title for or description of the Messiah based on the prophecy of Isaiah. Originally, however, these verses were antiphons used by the early church during vespers or evening prayer the last week of Advent.
Below is the reflection I wrote for today, December 17, on the first O Antiphon, Wisdom: O Sapientia (Isaiah 11:2-3; 28:29). I considered the antiphon as our prayer to Holy Wisdom and imagined, based upon scripture, her response.
“O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.”
Before the first Advent and before you ever sang, “O come, O come Emanuel,” I was there; “the first of his acts long ago” (Proverbs 8:22). “Before the beginning of the earth,” “when there were no depths” or “springs abounding with water,” I was there (Proverbs 8:23-24). “Before the mountains,” before “the hills,” even before “the world’s first bits of soil,” (Proverbs 8:25-26) I was there. Before “God said, ‘Let there be…’” (Genesis 1:1-27), I came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sirach 24:3). I was there “beside him” each day of creation “rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race” (Proverbs 8:30-31).
I was there then. I am here now. “And for all the ages I shall not cease to be” (Sirach 24:9). I compass the vault of heaven and traverse the depths of the abyss (Sirach 24:5). I hold sway over you, the waves of the sea, all the earth, every people and nation (Sirach 24:6).
I am not conventional or of the ages. I am eternal. I am not information to be used or knowledge to be acquired. I am of the heart. I am not a quotation in calligraphy or a social media post. I am the writing of God’s finger on your heart.
My name is Sophia and I am ever a lady in waiting to your God and my God, “a spotless mirror of the working of God and an image of [feminine] goodness” (Wisdom 7:26).
I am the experience of divine presence shifting shape to fill the temple of your heart. For Solomon I was a bride, enamoring him with my beauty (Wisdom 8:2). For Job I was “the fear of the Lord” (Job 28:28). I gave voice to John the Baptist in the wilderness. I appeared to the magi as a star, to the shepherds as an angelic chorus, to Joseph as a dream, to Mary as pondering and treasuring. I am “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Who am I for you? How will you recognize me?
I am the hunger that is satisfied with more hunger and the thirst that is quenched with more thirst (Sirach 24:21). “Come to me, you who desire me” (Sirach 24:19).