Through December 23, Ascension Press is presenting “What’s in a Name? The O Antiphons with Thomas Smith.”
The “10-minute studies” (they are intended to take no more than 10 minutes of a reader’s time) are free at http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/category/free-studies/o-antiphons/
A recording and translation of each of the O Antiphons, chanted by the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford, can be found at this link: http://godzdogz.op.org/search/label/%22O%20Antiphons%22
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(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”!
“O Come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.”
If you read through the Book of Emmanuel (Isaiah 7-12), you know that one of the characteristics of the Messiah, the revived Root of Jesse, is that God’s Spirit would rest upon him in a singular way (Isaiah 11:1-2). This happens at the Baptism of Jesus (Mt. 3:13-17).
According to Isaiah, the Spirit will bring to the Messiah seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Because of God’s great generosity, these seven gifts are not only for Jesus, but for us! While their fullest expression belongs only to Jesus, he shares them with every baptized believer (Catechism, Nos. 1830-1831). They help us to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They give us the strength and courage to follow in Jesus’s footsteps.
It is to Christ as Wisdom, though, that we want to turn our attention to today, as the Antiphon intones. St. Paul agrees: Christ himself has become our Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30), and the chief way he shows God’s wisdom is from the Cross, in Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). What does this have to do with the Nativity? For Franciscans, the Crib and the Cross are inseparable and often shown together in art. This is no accident as they both point to a divine wisdom that appears to be nothing but foolishness to the world. God comes both to the Crib and Cross as a perfect gift of self: a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering. In Bethlehem, Divinity is revealed in humility; on Calvary, Life is found in death. Consider how Mary was witness to this great wisdom in both places, and how it shaped her own continual “yes” to our Father in heaven.
<p>Lord, in this Antiphon we ask you to show us the path of knowledge, and to “teach us in her ways to go.” Give us the courage, this season, and throughout our lives, to model the wisdom, humility and love revealed in both Crib and Cross. Help us daily to make of ourselves a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering to you, and to give ourselves away in love to others.
Take a moment or two to rest in this revelation of God’s eternal wisdom – the love offerings of Jesus in Bethlehem and Calvary. Rest in the immensity of God’s profound love for you.
Reprinted with permission of Ascension Press.
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Thomas Smith is the co-author of Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website www.gen215.org.