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17th December - "Son of David, Son of Abraham - Wisdom of God"

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Readings: Genesis 49: 2, 8-10; Psalm 72; Matthew 1: 1-17

As we enter this final stage of Advent, when the Church expresses her yearning for the coming of the Saviour in the great ‘O’ antiphons, the contrast between the text of today’s antiphon, O Sapientia, and the day’s Gospel is striking. In the antiphon, we refer to Jesus as the wisdom coming forth from the mouth of the Most High that powerfully and sweetly orders all things. We contemplate him as the one who was with the Father from all eternity, sharing in his act of creating and sustaining all things: we apply to him the many and exalted things the Old Testament has to say about the Wisdom of God.

Then we turn to the Gospel: here, we find ‘the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Mt 1: 1). What clearer way could there be of emphasising his humanity? He is born in a human family, with a human history: he is a human being like us.

Of course, it is precisely this contrast which lies at the heart of the mystery of Christmas: the one of whom we prepare to celebrate the coming as a helpless infant, born in a stable to a human mother, is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Son begotten of the Father before all ages.

Christmas can sometimes become an overly familiar celebration: every year we hear the same readings, sing the same carols, and we all feel like we know the story. In this final week building up to Christmas, then, the Church in her liturgy presents us with this striking juxtaposition of Jesus the son of Mary and Jesus the pre-existent Wisdom of God: to prepare us to celebrate the feast, we are to be shaken out of our complacent familiarity by this amazing truth of the Incarnation.

O Wisdom, who came forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, powerfully and sweetly ordering all things: come to teach us the way of prudence.

Gregory Pearson OP


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