"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."
The seven days before celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth begins, Christian prayer of longing in keeping the Advent vigil is taken to a new level. Until now attention has been focussed on the historical succession of patriarchs and prophets culminating in John the Baptist. All pointed in their different ways to the hidden mystery of God declaring through them his Word, his will and purpose to the world.
Now, all attention is devoted to the story of the coming of Jesus, the only begotten Son and Word of God, recounted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each day of this week of waiting uses a special prayer in the form of brief verse used as an antiphon. It first appears in the acclamation to welcome the Gospel at the Eucharist, then to accompany the Magnificat at Vespers. Each calls on Jesus the One who comes, using an image or metaphor from the poetry of the First Testament referring to God's intervention in history.
In semitic culture the wise person was one who knew how to do things successfully and show others how to, God is understood as source and giver of all wisdom. The most striking scriptural images are of women who are good housekeepers. The feminine personification of Wisdom in Egyptian and Greek mythology as 'Sophia' concerned the practicalities of life, but also hidden knowledge of higher things and other spiritual realms. God's Wisdom and God's Word are two dimensions of the knowable activities of the Unknown, theory and practice inseparably bound like two sides of the same coin. They issue from God the unseen into the created order in the person of Jesus.
The Word is made known by dwelling with us, by action and teaching, by suffering in sacrifice. Wisdom is revealed by reconciling all things to God, making possible unity in diversity, binding all people together in love. This is who this man Jesus is for the world, representing all that can be desires to make the world the way it is meant to be.
We simply pray to be taught the way of truth revealed in him who declares: "I am the way, the truth and the life.", nobody comes to the Father except by me. He who is makes Himself know to us as 'the image of the unseen God'.