Who Is Sophia
Who is Sophia
“I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.”
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom. She appears in the Old and New Testaments as a mother, a bride, and a child. She is present at creation. She helps Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Scripture calls her divine, eternal, and all powerful. She is everywhere present, and knows all things.
Solomon loved her and asked her to rule with him. The Emperor Justinian built his masterpiece for her, the “Hagia Sophia.” In Jerusalem, crusaders erected their church in her honor, the “Church of Holy Wisdom.” Bulgaria named its capital for her, Sofia.
The Jews wrote a vast wisdom literature about her. The Catholic Church canonized the Book of Wisdom about her in the Old Testament. The Orthodox liturgy calls upon her before each gospel is read aloud, “Sophia!”
Our Lord Jesus said he and his cousin, St. John the Baptist, were both her children.
For thousands of years she has been studied, sought after, honored, and called upon. By her, kings reign, and princes rule.
Yet, to this day, she remains mysterious, elusive, and many have not heard of her.
Who is this glorious enigma, hidden in plain sight? Who is this resounding whisper, echoing throughout the world, across millennia?
Who are you, Sophia?
Our search begins…in the beginning.
In the beginning, God created heaven and earth.
Now the earth was formless void,
and darkness was upon the face of the deep,
and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.
Like an orchestra silent, before the first note is played, conductor’s hand poised, baton motionless, so sits the earth in darkness, hushed, the Spirit hovering, brooding the chaos, awaiting the signal to begin the symphony of creation.
And God said, “Let there be light!” So it begins! By his Breath and by his Word, God the Father unleashes the work of creation, building a world for his children, a world in his image, where one day God too will set foot as a creature, born of a virgin, a true Son of Man.
And Wisdom is there, helping out with creation, like a child in a sandbox, playing with joy.
Not yet had he made the earth,
nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world.
When he established the heavens,
I was there.
When he set a horizon on the face of the depths,
when he set the sky above,
and secured the fountains of the deep,
When he encompassed the sea with its bounds,
and made a law to the waters that they should not pass,
When he balanced the bedrock of the earth,
I was with him forming all things,
and was delighted day by day,
Playing before him at all times,
playing in the world,
and my delight was to be with the children of men.
With ease and with whimsy, Wisdom helps with creation, forming all things as though it were child’s play, taking delight in its crowning achievement: the children of men, made in God’s very image.
“There is one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created all things,” wrote St. Irenaeus in the 2nd century. But who is the Word, and who is Wisdom? St. Irenaeus knows them as the Son and the Holy Spirit whom God uses like two hands working together on the work of creation:
God possessed his own ‘two hands,’
for with him were always the Word and Wisdom:
the Son and the Spirit,
by whom and in whom,
free and spontaneously,
he made all things.
Like a right and a left hand, the Word and Wisdom accomplish the work of creation, each in their own way, with perfect complementarity.
Wisdom’s role in creation is described by St. Irenaeus, who quotes at length from a chapter of Proverbs:
The Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and Wisdom too, who is the Spirit, was present with him, before all creation. So declared Solomon,
‘God by Wisdom founded the earth,
and by understanding he has established the heavens.
By his knowledge the depths burst forth,
and the clouds dropped down dew’ (Proverbs 3:19-20).
‘The Lord possessed me [Wisdom] in the beginning,
before he made anything.
I was poured forth from eternity,
from of old, before the earth was made.
The depths were not as yet,
and I was already brought forth.
Neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung up;
before the mountains were made strong,
and before all the hills, he brought me forth.’ (Proverbs 8:22-27).
Irenaeus notes the special touch of Wisdom in creation: she adds the beauty of adornment.
God made all things by the Word,
and adorned them by Wisdom.
The touch of Wisdom is the touch of beauty: she adorns all creation.
Wisdom, Helper of Adam
And God said,
“Let us make man in our image and likeness.”
The clay lies flat and smooth, bathed in mist rising up from the ground. The Potter kneels down with his hands on the clay, running them over the wet slippery surface. To make man, or not to make man: that is the question. Whether ‘tis better to endure a fall and centuries of grief, strife, betrayal and murder for the sake of those who will love, or perhaps rather, to just let the clay lie flat and lifeless…
There is no question in the Potter’s mind! Let us make man. This is going to get messy.
St. Irenaeus sees God the Father sharing his plan with the Word and with Wisdom, proposing his opus, the creation of man:
With God were always present the Word and Wisdom,
the Son and the Spirit,
by whom and in whom, free and spontaneously,
he made all things,
to whom also he speaks, saying,
‘Let Us make man in Our image and likeness.’
The Word and Wisdom join with the Father, working as One to accomplish this task.
And God created man in his own image;
in the image of God he created him:
male and female he created them.
Wisdom is there, delighting in man, and helping the first man, created alone.
She preserved the first-formed father of the world,
when he was created alone,
and she brought him out of his sin,
and gave him power to govern all things.
Wisdom, like Eve, is the helper of man. But better than Eve, she protects man from sin and restores him to power. She helps him repent and observe God’s commandments.
God blessed them, saying,
‘Increase and multiply,
fill the earth, and subdue it,
rule the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air,
and all living creatures that move on the earth.’
Eve reflects Wisdom: pure in her origin, mother of life and of all who will live. She is Gift to Adam, Consoler of loneliness, a Helpmate and Advocate placed at his side. She helps him to fulfill the commandments God gave them:
1. To multiply: yes, she is just the right helper
2. To rule: Eve should help Adam rule wisely too
Solomon knew Wisdom had helped long ago – how she helped Adam to rule all the creatures on earth. And so, in his time, Solomon called upon Wisdom to help him rule wisely the people of God.
‘God of my fathers, and Lord of all mercy,
who fashioned all things at the sound of your Word,
and who by your Wisdom appointed to man
to have dominion over the creatures you made,
and to rule all the world in holiness and justice
and to render right judgment in goodness of heart,
‘Give me Wisdom, nigh by your throne…
for she knows and understands all things,
and will guide me prudently in my affairs,
and preserve me by her power.
‘So shall my works be pleasing to you,
and I shall govern your people justly,
and be worthy of the throne of my father.’
Solomon prayed with a pure heart for Wisdom; he asked for her first, not for riches nor power. She came to him willingly, helping and guiding him. Never would Wisdom forget his first prayer. Never would Wisdom abandon his soul.
Wisdom, Tree of Life
She is Tree of Life to those who embrace her;
happy are those who hold her tight.
In the center of paradise, the centerpiece stands: the Tree of Life bearing fruit – life without end. God made her grow in the heart of his garden, and even the man whom he had made in his image, he placed in her service, to tend her with care, and to take care of her garden.
The Lord God brought forth from the ground
all manner of trees fair to behold, and pleasant to eat of,
the Tree of Life also in the center of paradise,
and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil…
And the Lord God took man,
and put him into the paradise of pleasure,
to work and to care for it.
Who could this be, this Tree of Life, this Heart of the Garden, this Giver of Life? Who so fecund, so fruitful as she? Her fruit is for taking; she is not forbidden. To eat of the Tree of Knowledge brings death, but to eat of the Tree of Life restores life.
I spread out my branches like unto a terebinth,
my branches of worship, my branches of grace.
I bud forth sweet smelling like unto the vine;
my blossoms are glorious, laden with fruit.
‘Come to me, all you who yearn and desire me,
take and be filled with the yield of my fruits.
For you will remember me sweeter than honey,
my spirit surpassing the sweetness of honeycomb.’
The Tree of Life is an image of Wisdom, the Spirit Fecund, the Giver of Life. Her branches reach out to man, offering blessing; her fruit is good deeds and a virtuous life.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace,
patience, and kindness, goodness, and faith,
Wisdom on high is first of all chaste,
then peaceable, gentle, yielding, and merciful,
bearing good fruits, being fair and sincere.
She is always in season, twelve months of the year, and her leaves are for healing the wounds of the nations.
He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal,
coming forth from the throne of God and the Lamb.
In the midst of the street, and the sides of the river,
the Tree of Life grows,
bearing twelve fruits, yielding fruits every month,
and the leaves of the tree are for healing the nations.
This fruitful Spirit, the Tree of Life, helps Adam fulfill the command to be fruitful, inspiring him to bring forth good works of repentance, long-suffering, contrition and hope, patiently awaiting the promised Redeemer who opens the way to the lost Tree of Life.
In the fullness of time, the same fruitful Spirit, the Tree of Life, together with Mary, the “branch from the root of Jesse,” brings forth the Messiah, as fruit of the womb.
The greatest fruit of the Tree of Life is the Son of God, fruit of Mary’s womb.
And Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out with a loud voice, saying,
‘Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’
Spirit of Wisdom, Tree of Life,
Bear fruit within us: Christ in our souls.
Wisdom, Water of Life
From the mouth of the Most High I came forth,
and covered the earth like a mist.
The desert is dry, not a drink to be found. Skeletons bake in the heat of the sun, while death reigns supreme over waterless sand. But lo, a clear river comes running along, twisting and turning among the dry dunes. Wherever she turns, life buds forth like a garden. The green grass grows softly, and trees line her banks, while myriads of creatures come drinking the water of life.
Water brings life to earth, as air brought man to life.
When no plant yet grew in the fields of the earth,
and no vegetation had sprouted on land,
for the Lord God had not yet caused rain to rain down,
and no man existed to cultivate earth,
a fine mist arose from the face of the ground,
and watered the surface of the entire world.
And the Lord God formed man of the clay of the earth,
and breathed in his face the breath of new life,
and man came alive, the first soul of the living.
And the Lord God had planted an Eden beforehand,
and therein he placed the man, whom he created.
Watery mist brought to life the new earth, converting bare ground into a Garden of Eden. Watery breath, like a mist from God’s mouth, brought to life clay: the first man came alive.
Life-giving water, and life-giving air, together they mix as a life-giving mist, which is breathed forth by God as the Spirit of Wisdom, who covers creation and fills it with life.
From the mouth of the Most High I came forth,
and covered the earth like a mist.
The Father breathed Wisdom upon his creation to bring it to life on the day it was made. He breathed forth the mist and it covered the planet, sprouting up life where before there was none.
He breathed Wisdom forth in the face of the man, and so was made Adam, the first living soul. The Son does whatever the Father is doing; and so he too breathes on his Church to give life.
‘As the Father has sent me, I likewise send you.’
Having said this, he breathed on them, saying,
‘Breath in the Holy Spirit.’
The Spirit of Wisdom breathed forth by the Father is likewise breathed forth by the Father’s own Son. This life-giving breath is the life-giving Spirit: the Giver of Life, from the Father and Son.
St. John saw the Spirit proceed like a river, which flows from the throne of the Father and Son:
And he showed me a river of Water of Life, clear as crystal,
proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb.
The Father made life-giving fountains of mist rise up from the earth, from its belly below. The Son, in his turn, gave man fountains of water, to rise up within, giving life without end. The Father brought springs from the bowels of the earth; the Son makes a spring from the belly of man.
‘The water I will give,
shall become a fountain of water within him,
springing up to eternal life…’
Jesus stood up and cried out,
‘If any man thirst,
let him come to me, and drink.
He who believes in me,
as the scripture says,
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’
Now, he said this of the Spirit
whom they should receive, who believed in him.
Wisdom, water of life, flow in us!
Wisdom, Breath of Life
She is a breath of God’s power,
a pure exhalation of the glory of the Almighty.
A broad valley lies full of bones, dry as dust. No water revives them; this time it is breath – it is breath which gives life.
Thus says the Lord God to these bones:
‘I will cause breath to come breathe into you,
and you shall live.
‘I will set sinews upon you,
and dress you in flesh and in skin,
and put breath into you,
and you shall live.’
At God’s command, the prophet Ezekiel calls on the Breath to come into these bones:
‘Come from the four winds, O Breath,
come breathe on these slain ones, that they may have life…’
And the Breath came upon them, and they lived,
and they rose to their feet, a vast army.
This breath of God is the Spirit of Wisdom:
She is a breath of God’s power,
a pure exhalation of the Almighty’s glory.
Wisdom is life for all those who find her:
He who finds me, finds life,
and wins favor from the Lord:
But he who sins against me,
wounds his own soul.
All who hate me love death.
If the Lord were to take back the breath he had sent, all life would depart from the creatures on earth:
If God withdrew his Spirit
and took his breath back to himself,
all flesh would expire together,
and man would return to dust.
…The prophet Elijah found lodging and stayed with a widow whose son became mortally ill.
And it came to pass that the son of the woman fell sick unto death, until no breath was in him.
The boy indeed died, and Elijah the prophet took hold of his body, and, laying it down on his bed where he slept, three times he stretched out, lying over the body, and called upon God, who revived the dead boy.
These actions foretold how the Father, one day, would bring back to life the deceased Son of Mary, the widow of Joseph.
Similarly, the two holy witnesses, seen by St. John, lay dead in the street for three days and a half.
And after three days and a half of a day,
God breathed the Spirit of life in their face,
and they rose to their feet.
God gives the gift of the Spirit. The Spirit is the gift of life.
The Spirit is Gift, with Receiver and Giver. The Father eternally gives to the Son. The Son does whatever his Father is doing; the Son gives the Spirit in turn to creation, breathing life into the Church with these words: “Receive the Holy Spirit. As the Father sent me, so in turn I send you.”
He bids all creation continue the giving, with each generation from Adam till now: passing the breath of life on to each newborn, and passing the gift of grace on to each soul, from teacher to learner, from baptizer to baptized, from mother to daughter, and father to son, from now, and forever in each generation, as long as life lives, and there be breath in man.
Wisdom, Life of the Father
As the Father has life in himself,
so he gave also to the Son to have life in himself.
On the side of the seashore a thinking man walks. A child is running with bucket in hand, bringing the ocean to fill up his sandpit. “What are you doing?” the thinking man asks of the child who runs with a bucket in hand. “I am putting the sea in the hole I have dug.” The sea shall not fit in so tiny a sandpit, thinks the man who is thinking of God, Three in One. But the child continues, “I shall put the whole sea in my wee little sandpit before you fit God, Three in One, in your head.”
The Savior himself, when he dwelt on the earth, described for mankind how to think of the Godhead:
of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.’
One Name for one God, three terms for three persons: a Father, a Son, and a Spirit most holy.
A father begets, and a son is begotten. A spirit is Breath of Life, dwelling within. The Father gives life to the Son he begets; his own life he gives to the Son, as it says,
‘As the Father has life in himself,
so he gave also to the Son
to have life in himself.’
The life that he gives to his Son to have life, is the Spirit within him, his own breath of life. The Spirit is breath of the Father and Son. The Spirit is given as Gift: gift of life, from begetter to begotten, from Father to Son.
The Spirit is one with the Father, one nature, like air in a human fills lungs, heart, and blood. Each of our cells is alive breathing oxygen, breathing the breath of life, dwelling within us.
The Spirit is one with the Son in like manner, as life all throughout him, which comes from the Father. As man passes on his own life to his son, the gift of life passes from older to young.
The Father is one with the Son as he said,
‘The Father and I are one. ’
The Father and Son are both one by begetting; the elder gives all that he is to the younger. He gives him his life and his nature and being; he even gives over his very own Name.
‘All that belongs to the Father is mine.’
The Spirit of the Father is the Spirit of the Son. They breathe the same life, and it breathes forth from both.
Breath is relation, it must have a breather: it would not be breath if the breather were not. And the breather would not be, were he to cease breathing. The Breath and the Breathers are all of them One.
Wisdom is the breath of God; she is one with her Breather.
She is a breath of God’s power,
a pure emanation of the glory of almighty God,
and therefore no defiled thing comes into her.
She is the brightness of eternal light,
and the flawless mirror of God’s majesty,
and the image of his goodness.
Being but one, she can do all things,
and while she herself never changes,
she makes all things new,
and throughout generations
she enters into holy souls,
making them friends of God.
Wisdom, Life of the Son
I am Resurrection and Life
The breath of life blows on the clay face of Adam. His waking eyes open and glimpse, through the mist, the face of the Spirit, now filling his being. He stands up full grown, not a babe nor an infant: a man resurrected, he wakens to life.
Adam is called “son of God” in the Gospel of Luke, and Jesus is likened to Adam by Paul. The coming to life of the first man, named Adam, can teach us about how the Son is begotten.
The Son is begotten; the Father begets him. The Son receives all from the Father most high. The Father is Living, is Giving, Begetting; the Son is Receiving, Awaking, Begotten. The Son is eternally coming to life.
‘The Son can do nothing, except what he sees the Father is doing.
What the Father is doing, the Son does in turn.
The Father loves the Son, and shows him all he does:
greater deeds always, you will be amazed!
He raises the dead, and brings man to life,
so likewise the Son makes alive whom he will.’
This “raising to life” and this “making alive” the Father once did for the son of the widow whom Elijah revived. The Father did likewise for Adam, the first man, raising him up as the first living soul. And all of these echo the eternal life giving, from Father to Son, before time had begun: begetting, and raising, and making alive.
‘I am Resurrection and Life.’
The Son is the Begotten, the eternal Coming Alive: Birth and Resurrection at once, like Adam, coming alive, fully perfect.
The Father is “He Who Is.” The Son is He Who is Coming. The Father promised to Adam: the Son will be coming. Throughout the Old Testament they pray him to come. He was the light “coming into this world,” and now to this day we still pray him to come, as we wait for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
He who testifies to these things says,
‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Eternally begotten, he is eternally coming: coming to new life from the Father, coming to give life to creation.
The Father possesses his life from the beginning, as Wisdom says,
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,
before he made anything,
from the beginning.
The Father gives his life to his Son eternally, before the dawn of time:
Like the dew
before the dawn –
I have begotten you.
The Son gives life to creation, even as God first spoke, “Let there be Light!”
In him was life,
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness.
And all of this giving of life, from Father to Son, and from Son to creation, is by the Breath of the Father, filling the Son, and blown into Adam, and in us his sons.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in you,
he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead
shall give life likewise to your mortal bodies,
by his Spirit dwelling in you.
Wisdom, Life of Creation
Wisdom is more active than all active things;
and penetrates everywhere by reason of her purity.
The soul of man penetrates flesh, bone, and marrow, ordering organs and making them one. The soul rules the body and fills it with life. It has understanding, and will never die. When the soul leaves the body, the parts fall asunder; chaos wrecks order, and the corpse turns to dust.
In similar manner, the Spirit of Wisdom fills all creation: ordering all things, pervading all things, renewing all things, and moving within them.
The Spirit of Wisdom is intelligent, holy, one, manifold,
subtle, eloquent, active, undefiled,
sure, sweet, loving that which is good,
quick, unstoppable, beneficent, gentle,
kind, steadfast, assured, secure,
having all power, seeing all things,
and penetrating all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle.
Wisdom is more active than all active things,
and penetrates everywhere by reason of her purity.
She reaches from end to end mightily,
and orders all things well.
Being but one, she can do all things:
and remaining in herself the same,
she renews all things.
Like a soul,
The Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world,
and holds all things together.
The catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “it belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation.”
This animating of creation enlivens creation, empowering it to give glory to God through the Spirit dwelling within it.
Let the earth bless the Lord,
let it praise and exalt him above all for ever.
You mountains and hills, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Everything growing on the earth, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all for ever.
You fountains, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all for ever.
You seas and rivers, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all for ever.
For Jesus and his contemporaries, creation is animated, and worthy to be addressed:
He rebuked the wind, and said to the sea,
‘Peace, be still!’
The apostles see creation as obeying its Master: “the wind and the sea obey him.”
The Lord instructs us to likewise address creation, without the slightest doubt,
‘Say to the mountain,
Get up and cast yourself into the sea;
and it shall be done.’
Lord, all creation praises you and obeys you,
For your immortal Spirit is in all things.
Wisdom, Life of the World to Come
In me is all hope of life
The toes of Adam leave marks on the clay; wherever he steps an impression is made. It shapes to his foot, like the mold for a casting. It reminds him he came from the womb of the earth.
St. Irenaeus likens Adam to Christ: both take their form from the mass of a virgin.
Adam had his substance from untilled and as yet virgin soil.
St. Ambrose expands on this, fleshing it out:
Adam is born of the virgin earth,
Christ is born of a virgin.
The destiny of Adam, who was formed from the earth, is forever bound with the earth who bore him. When Adam fell, the earth was cursed too.
‘Cursed is the ground on your account…
In the sweat of your face you will eat bread
all the days of your life,
until you return to the earth, out of which you were taken,
for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.’
And when Adam is glorified, the earth too will share in that glorious day, when bodies arise from the earth to new life, reborn from the mother who bore the first man.
But for now, all creation groans in labor, awaiting the glory of the children of God, the resurrection of the body: the full fruit of redemption.
Creation itself shall be set free from the bondage of decay,
to the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know the whole creation groans together in the pains of labor to this day.
And not only so, but we ourselves also, having the first-fruit of the Spirit,
we too groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.
Isaiah foretold how the dead are reborn:
Your dead shall live, my dead bodies arise.
Awake, sing in triumph, you that dwell in the dust;
for your dew is dew of the dawn,
and the earth shall give birth to the dead.
The good rise to life, and the bad to corruption.
He who is sowing to his own flesh,
of the flesh shall reap corruption;
and he who is sowing to the Spirit,
of the Spirit shall reap eternal life.
As Wisdom says,
For the fruit of good labors is glorious,
and the root of Wisdom never fails.
On that glorious day, when the children of God dart about as bright sparks, creation itself shall arise in like manner, sharing the glory of Adam her son.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.
For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
The earth which was cursed and which shared Adam’s dying, will share in his rising and be born anew. Like one resurrected, the earth will rise glorious. In Wisdom they live on: the world yet to come.
From the beginning, and before worlds,
I came forth,
and unto the world to come,
I shall never cease to be.
I believe in the Spirit,
the Giver of Life!
I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
Wisdom, Life of Resurrection
To join Wisdom’s family is to live forever.
The thick black of night shrouds the figures in darkness; a man of the council has come seeking light. He queries the Nazarene, and asks him his question:
‘How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb,
and be born again?’
Alas, every man will return to the dust. All the children of Adam will go back and enter the womb of the earth from which Adam was born.
St. Ephrem describes every mortal man’s fate:
He recalls to his mind his own birth, that he is a son of Adam, of dust…
and remembers he himself has fallen into the womb of the earth, his begetter.
But a new birth awaits:
You will know I am Lord, when I open your graves
and cause you to rise again out of your graves, my people.
I will put my Spirit within you
and you will come to life.
As Hesychius of Jerusalem preached in his Easter homily,
Hidden first in a womb of flesh,
Christ sanctified human birth by his own birth.
Hidden afterward in the womb of the earth,
he gave life to the dead by his resurrection.
And so man returns to the womb of his mother, in hope of rebirth for his body and soul. Resurrection will come, for the good and the wicked, and each be repaid for the works they have done.
They that have done good things,
shall come forth unto the resurrection of life;
but they that have done evil,
unto the resurrection of judgment.
To live in the Spirit, on earth, in this life, is to live as one buried and newly alive.
Christ will raise us up “on the last day;” but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ.
To live in the Spirit is to live the life of resurrection.
A man of the council meets again the Nazarene, this time as a corpse being laid in a tomb hewn from the rock of the earth like a womb. He brings a large mixture of aloes and myrrh for anointing the body and wrapping the shroud. He lays the dead body inside the dark tomb, and recalls what he told him, about being born.
The dead will be born of their mother once more, and rise in the Spirit to life without end. Who lives on this earth in the Spirit of Wisdom, has passed through the darkness and weathered the night.
For God loves no man, but him who dwells with Wisdom.
More fair than the sun, she surpasses all stars.
Compared unto light, she is found the superior,
for light yields to night,
but Wisdom obliterates darkness.
Come, Spirit of Wisdom,
dwell in us,
make us members of your family, the Church.
Help us die to sin and live a new life
in the resurrection of Christ!
Wisdom, Soul of the Church
I took root in an honorable people,
whom the Lord had chosen as his own,
and my abode is in the full assembly of the saints.
The roots of a tree sink deep in the earth, pulling up water, and holding it fast. The roots are unseen, yet they hold it together: securing each branch, giving life to the whole.
St. Augustine may have been the first to describe the Holy Spirit as the soul of the Church.
What the soul is to man’s body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. The Holy Spirit does in the whole Church what the soul does in all members of one body.
The soul brings together the parts of the body, by giving them life, and making them one. The Spirit enlivens the Church in like fashion, by giving us new life in union with Christ.
Now the people of God, who are one in the Spirit, existed since Adam and Eve were first made, as St. Augustine also says:
What we now call the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and was from the beginning of the human race, until Christ himself came in the flesh, from which time the already existing true religion began to be called ‘Christian.’
From the beginning of time, from the dawn of mankind, holy Wisdom was sent to the people of God, to dwell in their midst and to find home within them, and to bring them together: one family for God.
The Creator of all things spoke to me and commanded;
he who possessed me and rests in my tabernacle said to me:
‘Dwell in Jacob, and make Israel your heritage,
and in my chosen people put roots.’
Like a Tree of Life planted and set in the earth, holy Wisdom takes root in the People of God. She draws them together, unites them as one, and provides them their nourishment, rooted in God.
And so I took root in an honorable people,
whom the Lord had chosen as his own,
and my abode is in the full assembly of the saints.
Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, unites not only men, but all creation in Christ, as St. Paul writes,
All things were created by him and in him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He himself is the head of the body, the Church.
The Spirit of Wisdom, like the soul of the body, draws together all creation and all peoples in the Lord.
Wisdom shall tell of her praises,
and shall be honored in God,
and shall glory in the midst of her people,
and shall open her mouth in the churches of the Most High,
and shall glorify herself in the sight of his hosts,
and in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted,
and shall be admired in the holy assembly.
And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise,
and among the blessed she shall be blessed, saying:
‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High
and envelope the face of the earth as a mist.
I dwelt in high heaven,
the seat of my throne in a pillar of cloud.
I alone compassed the circuit of heaven,
and plumbed the abyss of the oceans’ deep,
and walked in the waves of the sea,
and stood in all the earth.
And in every people, and in every nation
I am sovereign,
and in all these I sought rest,
and I shall dwell in the inheritance of the Lord.’
Wisdom, Mother of the Church
The children of Wisdom are the Church of the just,
and their generation, obedience and love.
In the cool of night, under the light of the stars, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, to answer his question.
‘Amen, amen I say to you,
unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’
The Spirit gives birth to the kingdom of God, giving life to each soul, and helping them grow.
As a virgin and mother, the Spirit of Wisdom sanctifies each member of the Church, nourishing them with the bread of life, supporting them, until finally she clothes them in a robe of glory.
He that fears God, will do good,
and he that possesses justice,
shall lay hold on Wisdom,
and she will meet him as an honorable mother,
and will receive him as a virgin bride.
With the bread of life and understanding
she shall feed him,
and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink,
and she shall be made strong in him
and he shall not be moved.
And she shall hold him fast
and he shall not be confounded,
and she shall exalt him among his neighbors.
And in the midst of the church
she shall open his mouth,
and shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
and shall clothe him with a robe of glory.
She shall heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness,
and shall cause him to inherit an everlasting name.
Now, Mary is also called Mother of the Church, for Mary is the icon of the Spirit, the perfect image of Wisdom, and their bond is so complete, their missions so united, that the titles and office of the one can often be equally applied to the other, always bearing in mind the great distinction that the Spirit of Wisdom is divine, and that Mary is created.
Indeed, for each title and office shared by Mary and the Spirit, it is the Spirit who holds the title preeminently, and Mary who holds the title in virtue of her participation in the life and mission of the Spirit.
For as it is said of Wisdom:
She is the brightness of eternal light,
and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty,
and the image of his goodness.
So in turn it can be said of Mary, she is “the unspotted mirror of Wisdom, and the image of her goodness.”
Together as one, while remaining two distinct persons, one with a nature divine and one with a nature created, Wisdom and Mary share and fulfill together the role of Mother of the Church.
Jesus called Wisdom the mother of all holy souls when he numbered himself and St. John the Baptist among her children, saying:
‘John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and you said,
He has a devil.
The Son of man is come eating and drinking: and you say,
Behold a man that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners.
But Wisdom is proven right by all her children.’
Spirit of Wisdom,
mother of holy souls,
may we be counted among your children,
who have been born again of you, in the water of baptism,
and so may we enter the kingdom of God.
Wisdom, Mother of All the Living
She was the mother of them all.
Remember, O man, that you are but dust, and unto the dust you shall one day return.
A heavy yoke lays on the children of Adam,
from the day they come out of the womb of their mother,
till the day they return to the mother of all.
The earth is called the mother of Adam and of all his children, for each one of us comes from the dust of the earth, and returns there once more.
Genesis tells how the earth brought forth Adam and all the living creatures of all different kinds:
And God said,
‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds.’
And so it was done.
All living things are made not just of earth, but also the Breath of Life dwells in them too. Take back their breath and they fall back to dust, but give them God’s Spirit and life springs anew.
You take back their breath, they expire,
and turn back into dust.
You send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
All of the living were given birth from the Earth and from the Spirit, as from two mothers, laboring as one. As an early writer mused,
Adam came into being from two virgins,
from the Spirit and from the virgin earth.
The earth was untilled and untouched like a virgin on the day she brought forth the first man, who was Adam. And the Spirit of Wisdom is virginal too, forever inviolate, as Solomon wrote:
She is an intelligent spirit:
holy, one, manifold, subtle, eloquent,
Of her purity he testifies:
She is a Breath of the Power of God,
and a truly pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God,
and therefore no defiled thing comes into her.
The earth and Wisdom, like two virgin mothers, acting as one, together give life to all of the living. Earth supplies the matter, while the Spirit, who orders all things well, produces order and life. Together they bring forth Adam, and all living creatures.
And in the fullness of time, Wisdom and Mary, the purest of earthlings, bring forth God Incarnate, as two virgin mothers, collaborating as one. Mary furnishes the purest matter from her flesh, and Wisdom, who orders all things well and gives life to all things, produces form and life in the holy thing.
As the angel said,
‘The Holy Breath shall come upon you,
and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow you,
therefore also the begotten thing shall be called holy, Son of God.’
For us men, and for our salvation,
Christ came down from heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
(καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου)
and became man.
-Council of Constantinople
Wisdom, Mother of All Creation
All good things came to me together with her…
and I knew not that she was the mother of them all.
Adam beholds the great lights which God made: the greater light rules in the sky all day long, and the lesser light rules with the stars in the night.
And God said:
‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky
to divide day from night;
and let them be signs to mark seasons, days, and years,
and let them be lights in the vault of the sky
to give light on the earth.’
And so it was.
And God made the two great lights:
the greater light to rule in the day,
and the lesser light to rule in the night,
and the stars.
And God set them in the firmament of heaven
to give light on the earth,
and to rule over day, and to rule over night,
and divide light from the darkness.
And God saw it was good.
St. James calls God the “Father of the lights,” for they were made by God, and come from God, like every good thing.
Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the lights,
who never dims and is never eclipsed in turning.
Solomon similarly calls Wisdom the mother of “all good things,” for God made all creation through the Word and Wisdom.
Now all good things came to me together with her,
and innumerable riches through her hands,
and I rejoiced in all these, because Wisdom went before me,
and I knew not that she was the mother of them all.
Solomon enumerates the things of creation he came to know through Wisdom, all of which she had fashioned:
God has given me the true knowledge of the things that are:
to know the disposition of the whole world,
and the virtues of the elements,
the beginning, and ending, and midst of the times,
the alterations of their courses,
and the changes of seasons,
the revolutions of the year,
and the dispositions of the stars,
the natures of living creatures,
and rage of wild beasts,
the force of winds, and reasonings of men,
the diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots,
and all such things as are hid and not foreseen, I have learned,
for Wisdom, who is the fashioner of all things, taught me.
As mother of all creation, Wisdom teaches her children; she shares the treasures of her knowledge about the true natures and right use of all good things. Whoever listens to her and puts her instruction into practice becomes a friend of God.
For she is an infinite treasure to men!
Those who use that treasure become the friends of God,
and are commended for their gift of learning.
Fashioner of all things,
And mother of all good things,
Teach us true knowledge of creation
That we may use all things wisely
And be friends of God.
Wisdom, Model of Eve
He who finds me, finds life
The painter looks carefully, eyeing his model. Her shape and her form, the light and the shade, his paintbrush produces in faithful portrayal. At last he is finished; the image is done. The model shines forth through the icon created.
Eve is an icon of Wisdom; and Wisdom is the model for Eve.
Of Wisdom, scripture says,
She is the brightness of eternal light,
the immaculate mirror of God’s majesty,
and the image of his goodness.
So Eve in her origin was likewise immaculate, made without sin, filled with justice and blessings. She too is the image of goodness divine.
Of Wisdom it is written,
She glorifies her noble origin by living with God,
and the Lord of all loves her.
She knows God’s ways
and is a partner in his works.
So too Eve lived with God in the garden of Eden, and was beloved of Adam, the lord of all the earth. She was his true helper and partner in work.
And the man called his wife’s name Eve,
because she was the mother of all the living.
The word Eve means Life. Of all that she is, she is most of all life. She is life to her man, and gives life to their children. She is mirror of Wisdom, God’s life-giving breath.
How tenderly Wisdom takes care of her children.
Wisdom gives life to her children,
and protects those who run to her,
she goes on before them in the right way.
He who loves her, loves life.
Those who look for her shall embrace her sweetness.
They that hold her tightly shall inherit life,
and wherever she goes, God gives a blessing.
To look upon Eve is to learn about Wisdom. The icon shows forth what the model is like.
From the creation of the world, the invisible things of God,
his eternal power and divinity,
are clearly visible through the things he has made.
The invisible Wisdom, “a breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty,” becomes visible in the Eve God has made.
From the day the Breath of Life blew in Adam’s face, he was looking for her. Not finding her, he was lonely. And when God presented him Eve, Adam recognized her image. He named her Life, like the Breath of Life, to whom she was so much alike. Eve and Wisdom, like icon and model, both of them kindred, each in her own way: mother of all the living.
Thrice Holy God,
all men and women are made in your image.
We see you in them,
and you see yourself in us;
we are a likeness of your eternal model.
“We all beholding the glory of the Lord
with unveiled face as in a mirror,
are transformed into that same image,
from glory to glory,
by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Wisdom, Mirror of God’s Majesty
She shall be called woman,
because she was taken out of man
Adam knew that he needed her before she appeared. He missed her without having yet seen her face. As each pair of animals bowed down before him, he named them and sighed they were not his true mate. Raising his eyes down the line of procession, he hoped she would turn up, a person like him. Someone same and yet different, someone like but unlike.
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.’
And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the birds of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called any living creature, that is its name. And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the birds of the air, and all the cattle of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper like himself.
Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam, and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman and brought her to Adam.
And Adam said, ‘This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.’
By contemplating Eve we can learn about Wisdom. Now, Eve was not born of a mother nor father. She came forth alive from the father of all men. She was not begotten by Adam as daughter. Instead she comes forth from his side in a manner quite novel.
The Fathers of the Church saw this novel procession of Eve from Adam as a likeness of the procession of the Spirit from the Father, for the Spirit is not begotten by the Father, but proceeds forth from him in a unique way. As the Doctor of the Church, St. Ephrem wrote,
It is not said of Eve that she was Adam’s sister or his daughter, but that she ‘came from him;’ likewise it is not to be said that the Spirit is a daughter or a sister [of the Godhead], but that she is ‘from God,’ and consubstantial with him.
Now the Son, who is the only-begotten of the Father, is the perfect image of the Father. But the Spirit, who proceeds forth from the Father in a unique way, is the perfect complement of the Father, as Eve, proceeding from the side of Adam, is the perfect complement of Adam, at once same but different. Eve comes forth from Adam as a mirror image, like but unlike, and perfectly complementary, as a left hand is a mirror image of the right, and the perfect complement.
Eve is like Adam because she is “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” just as the Spirit is consubstantial with the Father, because they share the same divine nature. But Eve is different and complementary to Adam, such that together they form a perfect whole; though two, they make one, in every human dimension.
So too the Word and Wisdom, who are the Son and the Spirit, are perfectly complementary, as St. Irenaeus describes them, like two hands of God. Now two hands are the same in that they are both hands, and yet the right and left hands are different in that they face complementary directions, and upon close examination, one is found to be stronger and more dominant, while the other is the perfect helper in all works.
The Son and Spirit are similar in that they both proceed from the Father, and both are sent into creation to bring wayward creation back to the Father. And yet the Son and Spirit are distinctly different in that they are fundamentally complementary, as Adam and Eve are complementary and not redundant, as two Adam’s or two right hands would be redundant.
The image of the Spirit as “breath” portrays this complementarity, as breath fills perfectly the void of the body, shaping itself along every contour of the interior of the lungs, such that it perfectly matches the breather. And being exhaled outside the body, it envelopes the face perfectly again, in perfect complementarity, yielding its shape to match perfectly the shape of the breather. The Son is the perfect image of the face of the Father, while the Spirit is the perfect complement, the negative image, which conforms to the Father and Son, filling them and enveloping them in perfect complementarity.
The Spirit of Wisdom is the “mirror of God’s majesty.” A true image, but reversed, as left is reverse of right, and as Eve is complement of Adam, and as breath is inverse of breather.
Wisdom, Whispering Wind to Elijah
…there came a soft gentle voice…
(1 Kings 19:12)
On the mountain of God where Moses once stood, now stands there Elijah, awaiting the passing of God right before him. In the days of Moses, God spoke through the thunder: the mount was on fire, and earthquakes broke forth. Now centuries later, Elijah the prophet stands on the very same spot, in the cleft of the rock, where God said “I Am.”
And a great and strong wind
ripped up the mountain,
and broke into pieces the rocks before I Am;
but I Am was not in the wind.
And after the wind
there came then an earthquake;
but I Am was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake a fire;
but I Am was not in the fire.
And after the fire a soft gentle Voice.
And when Elijah heard it,
he covered his face with his cloak,
and went out, and stood at the front of the cave.
And, behold, the Voice came to him, saying, ‘Elijah…’
The sweet voice of Wisdom is gentle and soft, as Solomon describes the voice of his beloved bride in the Song of Songs,
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hollow places of the mountainside,
show me your face,
let your voice sound in my ears,
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is beautiful.
The sweet voice of Wisdom speaks the same message as the Father and Son, but she speaks in a voice that is softer in tone. She spells out the same truth, but in her own way, in a voice that is harmony to the Father and Son.
As God said to the Israelites through Moses,
‘I will take you to Me for a people,
and I will be your God.’
So Wisdom says of every soul,
‘My beloved is mine, and I am his.’
Through Moses, God speaks as bridegroom of his people, taking them to himself, and giving himself to them in a sacred covenant.
In Canticles, Wisdom speaks as the bride of the soul, claiming her beloved as her own, and pledging herself to him in a wedding covenant.
The imagery is the same, but reversed as in a mirror. For through Moses, God reveals himself as the divine bridegroom, and the bride is the creature; but in Canticles, it is the bride who is divine, and the groom is the creature.
Wisdom completes the image which the Father reveals. She delivers the same message of faithful union between God and man, but she reverses the imagery, as she stands as bride, and we are the groom.
Wisdom completes the appealing of God: calling to man, seeking to save him. The voice of the Bridegroom, the voice of the Bride, we hear them both calling, saying our name.
Thrice Holy “I Am”,
Great and powerful,
Gentle and kind!
You are all in all,
Seeking to save all.
“To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak.
I became all things to all men, that I might save all.”
Wisdom, Bride of the Soul
As a virgin bride,
she shall take him.
The harem of Solomon counts 700 queens; 300 concubines round out the number. But more than all these, the one true love of Solomon, has always been Wisdom: first love of his youth.
Her have I loved,
and I sought her from my youth,
and I desired to take her for my bride,
and I was enamored of her beauty.
In good times and bad she has always been with him, sharing each day together, helping him on.
So I resolved to take her to me, to live,
knowing she will share with me the good,
and console me in my cares and trouble.
In her he finds rest, true repose for his soul.
I shall go in my house, and shall rest with her,
for her conversation has no bitterness,
nor her company grief,
but only gladness and joy.
Wisdom for her part is willingly given; she lays claim to man and she takes him to wed.
As a virgin bride,
she shall take him.
She is the model on whom Eve was fashioned: immaculate, beautiful, faithful and good. She is man’s partner on whom he relies.
She dwells in the Church, bringing out her own image, that the Church may be like her, a radiant bride, “without stain or flaw or any such thing, but holy and faultless,” a “pure virgin for Christ.”
She dwells in Jerusalem, the City of God, which, like her, comes forth from the Father above, “down out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” having about her “the glory of God.”
She dwells in each wedded bride, to be loved, to be died for, “as Christ loved the Church, and gave his life for her.”
This life is engagement, a promised betrothal. Man courts holy Wisdom; she pledges her love. Man rises to look for her, searches to find her. She comes out to meet him, to make him her own.
Radiant and unfading is Wisdom.
For those who love her, she is easily seen,
and for those who seek her,
she is quick to be found.
She hastens to introduce herself to those who desire her.
He who wakes at dawn to look for her will not be disappointed;
he will find her sitting near his gate.
To dwell on her is perfect meditation;
he who keeps vigil for her shall soon be secure.
For she goes about seeking such as are worthy of her,
and she graciously shows herself to them on their way,
and she meets them in every thought.
Come, Holy Wisdom!
Arise, my love, my dove, my beautiful one,
Wisdom, Bride of Canticles
Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth!
(Song of Songs 1:1)
Wisdom is in love with man. Like a virgin bride, like a gushing schoolgirl, like an infatuated teen who has found the wrong boy: Wisdom is in love with man even though he is no good, and no one can talk her out of it.
The Song of Songs is her secret diary, written for Solomon, the boy who would dump her. She writes him love poems and he writes her back. Like a secret admirer, she does not sign her name, but goes by “Solomona” (Shulamita); it means Solomon’s Girl.
In this relationship, it is the girl who takes the initiative. The Song of Songs begins with Wisdom daydreaming of her beloved:
‘O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,
For your love is better than wine!’
How precious and desirable to God is our love. It is sweeter than wine. It is sought above all, and is the greatest of commandments:
‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your might.’
It is God who loves us first, as St. John wrote:
‘We love him, because he loved us first.’
And so it is Wisdom who loves Solomon first. She is the one who seeks first to go after him:
‘Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
where do you feed, where do you make your flock to rest at noon?’
Wisdom had her designs on Solomon from the day he was born. I Am gave a special name to the newborn Solomon: “Jedidiah” which means “Loved by I Am.”
After the death of Bathsheba’s first baby,
David comforts his wife Bathsheba,
and goes in unto her,
and lies with her, and she bears a son,
and he calls his name Solomon;
and I Am loved him
and sends word by Nathan the prophet,
and he calls his name Jedidiah [Beloved of I Am],
on account of I Am.
We all are beloved, from the day we first are:
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret,
and artfully woven together
in the bowels of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written all the days
which had been prepared for me,
before one of them came into being.
The Book of Wisdom tells the love story of Solomon and Wisdom, told from Solomon’s perspective; we see inside his mind, how he loves her from his youth, how he seeks her out and makes her his own. Like us, he may feel that he is the active party, and Wisdom is passive, even hard to get.
The Song of Songs tells the same tale from Wisdom’s perspective, we see inside her mind, the mind of a jubilant virgin bride. We see that it has always been she who is driving the relationship, dreaming of him from the start, seeking him out, searching for him when he disappears from her, and teaching him the lesson of love in the final chapter.
It is the same message of love that the Father and Son tell, but told here in Wisdom’s most personal way.
Come, Holy Wisdom, bride of the soul!
Come nigh and find us,
and make us your own!
My heart sank at his departure.
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him, but he did not answer.
(Song of Songs 5:6)
God the Father created the world, and saw that it was good. He gave life to Adam and put him in Eden, and gave to him Eve, and gave them his blessing. And when God the Father called all “very good,” creation abandoned him, running away.
And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’
Adam and Eve had run and had hidden; abandoning their Father, just when all seemed so perfect.
The longed-for Messiah rode into Jerusalem, hailed by the people as king, son of David. And just when it seemed they would crown and obey him, the crowds and apostles abandoned their Lord.
“You will all abandon me this night…”
They hid in dark places while the Lord was put to death.
Wisdom too knows of the pain of abandonment. Just when she wants to embrace man in love, he turns and he vanishes, into the night.
My beloved put his hand to the door,
and my insides were moved for him.
I rose to open to my beloved,
and my hands dripped myrrh,
yes, my fingers, flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the lock.
I opened the bolt of my door to my beloved,
but he had turned aside, and was gone.
My soul melted when he spoke.
I sought him, and found him not;
I called, and he did not answer me.
Like the Lord who was mocked by both demons and humans, so Wisdom is bruised by both Watchers and man, as she seeks in the night, through the streets, for her love.
I was found by the watchmen
who roam through the city,
They beat me and bruised me;
they took off my veil.
Like the Lord who forgave all who caused him to suffer, Wisdom still loves her beloved who ran.
I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem,
if you find my beloved,
what should you say to him?
Tell him I am lovesick.
Like the Father who gazes out on the road each day looking for the return of his prodigal son, like the Shepherd who goes in search of the wandering sheep, so Wisdom searches the world through the night, trying to reach the lost soul who has left her. And her message is: “Tell him I am lovesick for him.”
seeker of the lost,
may we never grieve you,
may we never abandon you.
Come nigh and find us,
the lost in the night.
“Do not grieve the holy Spirit of God,
with whom you were sealed
unto the day of redemption”
Wisdom, Seeker of the Lost
I will rise, and will go about the city;
in the streets and the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
(Song of Songs 3:2)
At the beginning of Proverbs, Wisdom is there, out in the streets, calling the lost to repent of their ways.
Wisdom cries aloud in the streets,
she lifts up her voice in the broad places;
she calls at the head of the bustling corners,
at the entrances of the gates, in the city,
she offers her words:
‘O children, how long will you love childishness,
and fools covet those things which are hurtful to themselves,
and the unwise hate knowledge?
‘Turn at my reproof.
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you,
and will show you my words.
I called, and you refused.
I stretched out my hand, and no one took notice.
You disdained all my counsel,
and wanted not my correction.’
The Gospel according to Luke records three parables told by the Lord about how God goes seeking for the soul who is lost:
* The Father looking out for his prodigal son
* The good Shepherd who finds his lost sheep
* The Woman who finds her lost coin
Wisdom is she who will look through the dark, lighting her lamp till the lost one is found.
‘What woman having ten silver coins,
if she may lose one,
does not light a lamp, and sweep the house,
and carefully seek till she may find it?’
Wisdom tells the tale of her search for her loved one, disappearing as he does, time after time. Luckily this time she meets more amiable watchers.
In my bed at night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, and found him not.
I will rise, and will go about the city;
in the streets and the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, and I found him not.
The watchmen who keep the city, found me.
‘Have you seen him, whom my soul loves?’
When I had passed by them a little,
I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and I will not let him go.
Like the Father embracing the prodigal son, Wisdom embraces the soul she has found.
Like the woman who found her lost coin in the dark, there is much rejoicing in Heaven and Earth.
And when she has found it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors,
‘Rejoice with me,
because I have found the coin which I had lost.’
So I say to you,
there shall be joy among the angels of God
when one sinner repents.
Her friends are the angels, in the heavenly Jerusalem. She bids them keep peace while she holds her beloved, till she please.
I bid you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles and the does of the field,
that you not stir up, nor awake my beloved,
till she please.
Wisdom, Seal on the Heart
Set me as a seal on your heart.
(Song of Songs 8:6)
In the final chapter of the Song of Songs, Wisdom seeks to seal their love. She wants to place her mark upon him, so he will be hers forever, so that everyone will know he is hers.
‘Set me as a seal on your heart.’
A seal is the sign of ownership. It is a sign of exclusivity: for you alone. It is a sign no one else has tampered or broken the seal. It echoes her profession of love:
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.
The Spirit of Wisdom marks us as belonging to her, as belonging to God. In the New Testament, the image is oft repeated:
You were sealed with the Holy Spirit.
God has set his seal of ownership on us,
and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
Do not grieve the holy Spirit of God,
with whom you were sealed.
When God made Adam, he made him with a seal upon his heart, namely Eve who was there within him from the day he was made, as described by St. Ephrem, Doctor of the Church:
Eve was inside Adam, in the rib that would be drawn out from him. Although she was not yet in his mind, she was in his body, and she was not only with him in body, but also her soul and spirit, for God added nothing to that rib which he took out, except shape and beauty. Since everything that was suitable for Eve, who came to be from the rib, was complete in and from that rib, it is rightly said that ‘male and female he created them.’
Eve, as icon of the Spirit, is there sealing the heart of Adam, icon of Christ.
Jesus bears witness that the Father has sealed him with the Spirit when he says,
“God the Father sealed him [the Son of Man]”
As the prophet Isaiah foretold,
Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen one whom My soul loves
I have put my Spirit upon him.
This sealing with the Spirit is also spoken of as an anointing.
God, who anointed us, likewise sealed us
and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as pledge.
Jesus declared at the beginning of his public ministry, quoting from Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because I Am has anointed me.”
The Father has sealed the Son with the Spirit because the Spirit is likewise the seal upon the heart of the Father. The Son is the perfect image of the Father, so the Son is sealed with the Spirit just as is the Father.
The Son who does all that the Father is doing, would likewise seal us with the Spirit, that we might be like him, as he is like the Father. And the Spirit of Wisdom is eager to claim us.
‘Set me as a seal on your heart!
Wisdom, Love Stronger than Death
A time to be born, a time to die.
The four final things are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Wisdom addresses the four final things in the last of her lessons: the lesson of love.
Strong as death is love.
Sharp as Hell is jealousy:
its burnings are burnings of fire,
a flame of Yah!
The one who loves Wisdom will not fear to die, for the love that unites them is stronger than death. He will find Wisdom there waiting to meet him, calling his name to come into her arms.
But those who abandoned the sweet pleas of Wisdom, and those who ran after a false god instead, will find that her jealousy burns like a fire, as Hell’s very fire is Wisdom’s love scorned. It is a fire of love rejected, a jealous fire. It is a divine fire, a flame of Yah.
God did not make death,
nor is he glad to see living men perish.
For God created everything so it might have being,
and the natural forces of creation breed life.
Man was immortal when first he was made, and no human would die in the Garden of Eden, unless they forsook the commandment of God, and partook of the fruit which the Lord had forbidden them: “For, from the day you eat of it, you will be bound to die.”
Poor children of men, poor children of Adam: he lost life immortal, he cannot pass it on. He died from that day, and the life he bequeathed to us is life “bound to die,” from the day we are born.
This was the devil’s work.
For God created man incorruptible,
and in the image of his own likeness he made him.
But by the envy of the devil,
death came into the world.
Solomon knew that his death was approaching, when, in his old age, all his limbs had grown weak. His legs barely staggered, his teeth had grown few, and his eyes looking out were now dimmer with age.
Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the days of affliction come,
and the years draw near when you say,
‘I find no pleasure in them.’
Before the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkened,
and the clouds gather after the rain.
When the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stagger;
and the grinders cease grinding because they are few,
and those looking out the windows have become dim.
Ashes to ashes, we all fall down. But in the hour of death, Wisdom is there by our side. As our mother she tells us:
‘In me is all hope of life.’
As virgin bride she holds on to us,
‘I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.’
At the end she whispers in our ear,
“Love is stronger than death.”
Wisdom, Who Dwells in the Temple
The Spirit of God dwells in you
(1 Corinthians 3:16)
The temple of God is called in a particular way the temple of the Spirit, where the Spirit abides:
You are the temple of God,
and the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you,
whom you have from God.
It is the Spirit who works hand in hand with man to build this temple, by inspiring him to lead a holy life.
You also are being built up by the Spirit
into a dwelling place of God.
St. Peter describes the soul as an entire temple complex, with a house of the Spirit along with ministering priests to offer sacrifices to God.
As living stones, you are being built up
into a house of the Spirit, a holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God.
Wisdom describes how the Father of all creation sent her to dwell in the temple, the holy dwelling place in Jerusalem.
Then the Creator of all things commanded,
and said to me;
and he that formed me, rested in my tabernacle,
and said to me:
‘Let your dwelling be in Jacob,
and your heritage in Israel,
and take root in my elect.’
From the beginning, and before the world,
was I brought forth,
and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be,
and in the holy dwelling place
I ministered before him.
And so I was established in Sion,
and in the holy city I rested,
and in Jerusalem was my domain.
When Solomon had finished building the temple, the ark of the covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies by the priests, whereupon Wisdom came to dwell in the temple, manifesting her presence by the bright cloud of glory.
And the priests brought the ark of the covenant of I Am into its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, into the Holy of Holies under the wings of the cherubim…
And it came to pass, when the priests had come out of the sanctuary, that a Cloud filled the house of I Am, and the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the Glory of I Am had filled the house of I Am.
Solomon had built a dwelling place for his beloved Wisdom, and there she pleased to dwell, as the Father had sent her. And there she ministered in the holy dwelling place, offering up the prayers and worship of Israel to the Father, in psalms and hymns, and sacrifices of thanksgiving.
So too is each soul like the temple, filled with the Spirit, offering worship to God.
Be filled with the Spirit,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,
making music to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks always for all things,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
to God the Father.
Holy Wisdom, come dwell in us,
Sing songs of thanksgiving in our hearts
To God the Father.
Wisdom, Builder of the Temple
Wisdom has built her house
Young Solomon prayed that God would send to him Wisdom, to help him to rule when he rose to the throne. The kingdom was vast, and the projects were many. A people to rule, and a temple to build: he knew only Wisdom would know what to do.
Solomon prayed to God:
You chose me as king to rule over your people,
and bade me to build on your mountain a temple:
an altar in the midst of the city where you dwell,
a likeness of your holy tabernacle,
which you prepared from the beginning.
Now with you is Wisdom,
who knows all your works,
and was there by your side
when you fashioned the world,
and knows what is pleasing
in the sight of your eyes,
and what conforms to your will.
Send her forth from your holy heaven
and from the throne of your majesty,
that she may be with me, and work alongside me,
that I may know what is acceptable to you,
for she knows and understands all things,
and she shall lead me soberly in my works,
and shall preserve me by her power.
So shall my works be acceptable.
And so Wisdom labored along side of Solomon, building the temple, and ruling the Israelites. He needed her to enlighten and guide him; she needed him to unite to her will. Like the Spirit building up the temple of the soul, it cannot be done alone, but begs the collaboration of both God and man.
And so Wisdom built her house, a temple of worship, where man offers sacrifice, morning and evening: the slaughter of beasts and libations of wine, poured out in thanks to the Father above. Wisdom invites man to come to her house; she sends out her angels to call to the feast.
Wisdom has built her house,
she has carved seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her sacrifices,
mixed her wine, and set forth her table.
She has sent her maids to invite to the tower,
and to the walls of the city.
‘Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.’
And to the simple she says,
‘Come, eat my bread;
drink the wine I have made for you.’
The bread of the presence, the wine to be poured out: the whole of the temple was pointing to Christ, whom one day the Spirit would offer to God.
How much more shall the blood of Christ,
who by the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our conscience from dead works,
to serve the living God?
Like the voice asking Abraham to offer his son, Wisdom begs the Father to give us his Son.
‘Take, I pray thee, your son,
your only-begotten, whom you love,
and go to Moriah,
and offer him up there
on one of the mountains I will tell.’
On that mount of Moriah, the temple was built. In that temple the Lord was condemned to his death: “You have heard the blasphemy, what say ye? He is guilty of death!” On the hill of Golgotha, they offered him up: the Son of the Father, offered by the eternal Spirit. Mary his mother, icon of the Spirit, offers him likewise.
Wisdom and Mary, together as one, bore the Son of the Father into the world. Together they offer him back to the Father: the perfect sacrifice for the redemption of the world.
Behold, the Lamb of God
Who takes away the sin of the world
Wisdom, Ark of the Ark
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord, into its place,
to the oracle of the temple, into the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the cherubim,
so that the cherubim spread their wings over the place in which the ark was set, and covered the ark itself.
(2 Chronicles 5:7-8)
The Church hails our Lady as “Ark of the Covenant” for the Lord in her womb was Priest, Prophet, and King. And the ark, like her womb, held inside, as its treasure, the priest Aaron’s staff, the prophesized manna, and the law of the kingdom on tablets of stone.
This ark contained the golden pot full of manna,
and the rod of Aaron that had blossomed,
and the tablets of the covenant.
These three items in the ark symbolized Christ, who is the Bread of Life come down from heaven.
Jesus said to them,
‘Truly I tell you;
Moses did not give you the bread from heaven,
but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven…
‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate manna in the desert,
and are dead.
But here is the bread which comes down from heaven which,
if any man eat of it, he will not die.’
Christ is the lawgiver who fulfills the ten commandments of stone, and gives a new commandment written on man’s heart:
‘A new commandment I give you:
That you love one another as I have loved you.’
Higher than the priesthood of Aaron, Christ is “our high priest, who sits at the right hand of the throne of majesty in the heavens.”
The Ark of the Covenant, bearing these symbols of Christ in its belly (the manna, Aaron’s staff, and the tablets of law), is likened to Mary who bore Christ in her womb.
Now the ark was inside of the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place of the temple itself. The Holy of Holies was dark with no windows, surrounding the ark like a womb made of gold.
The ark and the temple were like one another. The ark had two cherubim, so did the temple. The ark was a temple, the temple an ark. The one was so tiny, the other so huge.
The ark is like Mary, the temple like Wisdom. The ark in the temple: a womb in a womb. Throughout countless ages men prayed at this temple: bring forth the Messiah; bear Christ to our world.
The shadow of Wisdom came over the virgin; the Holy of Holies overshadowed the ark. The womb in a womb then gave flesh to God-with-us; the Spirit of Wisdom, and Mary, brought forth.
The little womb gave of its flesh for the body, the greater womb gave of itself: breath of life. The Word became flesh, through the Spirit and Mary. Both virgins, both mothers, both acting as one. Together, the ark and the temple give birth.
The temple of God was opened in heaven,
and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple,
and there were lightnings, and voices,
and an earthquake, and great hail,
and a great sign appeared in heaven:
a woman clothed with the sun,
and the moon was under her feet,
and upon her head a crown of twelve stars,
and being with child, she cried laboring in birth,
and was in pain to be delivered…
And she brought forth a man child,
who was to rule all nations with an iron rod,
and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.
The ark and the temple have given birth.
The Holy Spirit shall come upon you,
and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow you,
therefore also the begotten thing shall be called holy,
Son of God
In the womb of the temple, the Holy of Holies, four cherubim dwell: two made by Moses on the lid of the ark, and two made by Solomon, towering tall. Together they form a cherubim throne, where I Am is seated, the Lord God of Hosts.
And David rose and went,
with all the people together,
to fetch the ark of God,
Who is called by the name,
“I Am of hosts,
enthroned upon the cherubim.”
St. John describes them in his vision of heaven: the four cherubim round the throne of I Am.
In the midst of the throne,
and round about the throne,
were four living creatures,
full of eyes before and behind.
And the first living creature was like a lion,
and the second living creature like a calf,
and the third living creature, having the face, as it were, of a man,
and the fourth living creature was like an eagle flying.
These four living creatures in the Holy of Holies, foretold the Messiah who one day would come. Like an eagle in flight he would come down from heaven; like the face of a man he would be man like us. As the lion of Judah he is son of David; like a calf he would serve and be slaughtered and die.
Two of the cherubim, the ones on the ark, represent Mary and what she gave Christ: she gave him his bloodline, her flesh was from David. By Mary was Jesus the Lion of Judah.
She gave him her flesh, a real body to suffer.
It is impossible that the blood of oxen and goats could take away sin. Therefore when he comes into the world, Christ says:
‘Sacrifice and oblation you did not desire,
but instead you gave me a body…’
We have been sanctified by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ.
By Mary, Jesus is the Calf of sacrifice, the beast of burden who carries our sins.
Two of the cherubim, the ones of the temple, represent Wisdom and what she gave Christ.
By the Spirit of Wisdom, who is Power of God, God became man, and took flesh among us. The heavenly Eagle, eternally God, became a true Man, with a face just like ours. By the Spirit this was done.
Mary alone, could not mother God. Mary alone, could not mother a man.
The Spirit alone, was not line of David. The Spirit alone, was not flesh which could die.
The Spirit and Mary, both acting together, give birth to the God-man, the suffering king.
The Spirit and Mary are so much in union, Ezekiel saw them as four heads in one.
I saw what looked like four living creatures…
each of them had four faces…
Each had the face of a man,
and each had the face of a lion on the right side,
and the face of an ox on the left side,
and the face of an eagle in back.
And yet they are separate, the four cherubim, as the person of Mary is separate from the Person of Wisdom, and the human nature of Mary is separate from the divine nature of Wisdom. Two persons, two natures: these four things are separate.
The mother of Christ: this one thing in common. Wisdom and Mary, together as one, are true Theotokos, the bearer of God. Together they are his cherubim throne.
Joseph, son of David,
do not fear to receive Mary your betrothed,
for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom, Beautiful Darkness
Over the ark were the cherubim of glory
overshadowing the mercy seat
On the Ark of the Covenant two cherubim knelt, their wings, stretching out, overshadowed the ark. In the Holy of Holies, two more cherubs stood, overshadowing the cherubim who overshadowed the ark.
And the Holy of Holies, windowless and curtained, overshadowed all these, in the darkest of shadows.
In the Song of Songs, Wisdom makes note of her hallmark darkness.
I am dark yet beautiful,
O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
as the tents of Cedar,
as the curtains of Solomon.
By nature she is all light.
For she is the brightness of eternal light…
She is more beautiful than the sun,
and above all constellations of the stars.
Being compared with light
she is found the more radiant,
for after light comes night,
but no evil can overcome Wisdom.
But the angels revolted, and man fell away and deserted the Eden which God said to tend, and the demons fell out and abandoned true Wisdom, and worshipped instead an idolatrous Sun. This sun was their leader who led them astray; he glowered at Wisdom, and turned them against her, as she recounts:
Do not stare because I am dark,
because the sun cast a burning glare at me.
My step-brothers were angry at me,
They made me work in the vineyards,
while my own vineyard is not kept.
By tempting the man they had made him leave Eden, where God had first placed him and told him to tend. They forced holy Wisdom to leave her own garden in search of the runaway children of Adam. She left her own vineyard to seek for the lost; now she works in the vineyards of fallen mankind.
She works in darkness to save a world without light, until the light of Christ will come into the world.
At the dedication of the temple, when Wisdom filled the sanctuary in the form of a cloud, Solomon exclaimed,
‘I Am has spoken, to dwell in thick darkness!’
Like the healing shadow of Peter, Wisdom is the shadow of the Father, bringing health and new life to all souls whom she touches.
They brought forth the sick into the streets,
and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities.
Wisdom is shadow, the dark of the womb, bringing life to creation, bringing Christ to the world. She shadows the ark and she shadows the cherubim; she shadows the virgin to heal Adam’s fall.
She dwelt in the desert in tents made by Moses, she dwelt in the dark behind Solomon’s veil. She left her resplendence to meet in our darkness, and still in the darkness her beauty is seen.
I am dark and beautiful,
O you daughters of Jerusalem,
as the tents of Cedar,
as the curtains of Solomon.
Wisdom, Wind of Judgment
The Helper…will convict the world of sin,
and of justice, and of judgment
The temple was built on the site of a threshing floor: a windy locale, where the wind would pass judgment. The wind judged the harvest, it split good from bad: it blew off the chaff, and the grain it compiled.
And Solomon began to build the house of the Lord
in Jerusalem, on mount Moriah,
as had been shown to David his father,
in the place which David had prepared,
on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
The site was so windy it billowed the curtain which Solomon hung at the entrance to the temple sanctuary, as an eyewitness described:
The style of the curtain was thoroughly in proportion to that of the entrance. Its fabric was in perpetual motion due to the constant wind, and as this motion ran up from the bottom, and the curtain bulged out to its highest extent, it afforded a pleasant spectacle from which a man could hardly tear himself away.
This windy temple on the site of the threshing floor was an image of the Last Judgment to come.
The priests of the temple were judged for their fitness: those found without blemish were clothed in white garments and permitted to minister. Those found to be blemished were clothed in black robes and turned back as unfit.
St. John saw the saints in white robes up in heaven, serving God in the temple.
I saw a great multitude, which no man could number,
of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues,
standing before the throne, and in sight of the Lamb,
clothed with white robes…
They stand before the throne of God,
and they serve him day and night in his temple.
Not only the priests but also each sacrifice was judged for its fitness. Every goat, and each lamb, every calf and each pigeon was judged to be fit to be offered to God, or judged as unfit and then sent back outside.
In the temple, in the courts of the Sanhedrin, the Lamb of God himself was judged worthy to die.
They brought Jesus before Caiaphas the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were assembled…
And the high priest said to him,
‘I adjure you by the living God,
that you tell us if you be the Messiah,
the Son of God.’
Jesus says to him,
‘You have said it. Moreover I say to you,
hereafter you shall see the Son of man
sitting on the right hand of the power of God,
and coming in the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest rent his garments, saying,
‘He has blasphemed;
what need have we of further witnesses?
Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy.
What think you?’
And they answering, said,
‘He is worthy to die.’
Then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels,
round about the throne,
and the living creatures, and the ancients;
and the number of them was thousands of thousands.
In a loud voice they were saying,
‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honor, and glory, and blessing.’
Wisdom, Fan of the Threshing Floor
will convict the world of sin…
because they have not believed in me.
St. John the Baptist foretold the Messiah would come bringing the Spirit, and separate the chaff from the grain in the kingdom of heaven.
He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit
and with fire.
His fan is in his hand,
and he will thoroughly cleanse his floor
and gather his wheat into the storehouse,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.
Christ uses the fan to judge good and evil. What the fan blows away, goes out into the fire. What the fan piles up is good grain for the store.
This winnowing fan is the Spirit of Wisdom. The fan is the measure Christ uses to judge: who is found with the Spirit, proceeds into heaven; who is found without Wisdom is cast in the fire.
In every generation she enters into holy souls
and makes of them friends of God and prophets.
For God loves no man, except him that dwells with Wisdom.
The Father pours out on the Son his own Spirit, and bids him pass judgment upon every nation.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and judgment to the nations he shall pronounce.
According to tradition, the last judgment takes place in the valley of Jehoshaphat, which means, “Valley of Judgment of I Am.”
Then I have gathered all nations,
and made them go down
to the valley of Jehoshaphat,
and there I have judged them.
Now, the temple in Jerusalem looks out over this valley of Jehoshaphat.
So sits the Lord on the day of last judgment, he sits in the temple above all the nations. He sits in the place where he too once was judged: where the Lamb was found worthy to offer to God.
He sits in the temple which sits on a threshing floor, where wind splits the harvest in chaff and in grain. A winnowing fan he holds fast in his hand, and with wind and with fire his floor he will cleanse.
Those born of the Spirit, those baptized with fire, whoever has Wisdom comes into the store.
Those found without Wisdom, those far from the Spirit, are blown by the wind like chaff into the fire.
With a mighty stroke of his hand, Christ heaves his winnowing fan, and the Spirit blows through the nations, separating the chaff from the grain.
Then the righteous will stand with great confidence
in the presence of those who have afflicted them
and set at nought their labors.
When the unrighteous see them,
they will be shaken with dreadful fear,
and they will be amazed
at the sudden salvation of the righteous…
‘We fools esteemed their life madness,
and their end without honor.
Behold how they are numbered among the children of God,
and their lot is among the saints…’
The water of the sea will rage against them,
and the floods shall run hard together;
a mighty wind will rise up over them,
and like a gale it will winnow them away.
By wind the world is judged. She is the measure by which Christ judges the world.
His fan is in his hand,
and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven,
as of a mighty wind coming,
and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Wisdom will help on the day of our judgment. She is the advocate, pleading our cause. As Esther the queen begged the king for her people, so Wisdom our advocate begs God to spare us.
Esther put on her royal gown, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s hall. Now he sat upon his throne in the hall of the palace, over against the door of the house. And when he saw Esther the queen standing, she pleased his eyes, and he held out toward her the golden scepter which he held in his hand, and she drew near, and kissed the top of his scepter.
And the king asked her, ‘What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? If you should ask for one half of the kingdom, it shall be given to you.’
But she answered, ‘If it please the king. I beseech you to come to me this day, and Haman with you, to the banquet I have prepared.’
…And the king asked her again the second day, after he was warm with wine, ‘What is your petition, Esther, that it may be granted you? And what do you wish; although you ask the half of my kingdom, you shall have it.’
Then she answered, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, O king, and if it please you, give me my life for which I ask, and my people, for whom I plead.’
Wisdom, like Esther is one with her people. Her life fills her people as Soul of the Church. She begs for God’s mercy as though her own life were at stake in the judgment before the just judge.
Justice is done at the plea of Queen Esther; her people are spared and the wicked are punished. So too at the judgment will Wisdom defend us; for, those who have served her she strongly defends.
How very unbearable is Wisdom to the foolish,
and the heartless will not continue with her.
She shall be to them as a mighty stone of trial,
and they will cast her from them before long.
For Wisdom is like her name,
and she is not manifest to many,
but with them to whom she is known,
she dwells, even unto the vision of God.
Give ear, my son, and take good counsel,
and cast not away my advice.
Put your feet into her fetters,
and your neck into her chains;
bow down your shoulder, and carry her,
and be not grieved with her bands.
Come to her with all your soul,
and keep her ways with all your power.
Search for her, and she shall be made known to you,
and when you have gotten her, do not let her go.
For in the latter end you shall find rest in her,
and she shall be turned into your joy.
Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for you,
and a firm foundation,
and her chain a robe of glory.
For in her is the beauty of life,
and her bonds are a healthy binding.
You shall put her on as a robe of glory,
and you shall set her upon thee as a crown of joy.
I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate
to be with you forever.
Wisdom, Water of the Temple
He showed me a pure river of water of life, bright as crystal,
proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
The temple needs water to wash away blood. The temple needs water for ritual baths. The temple needs water to fill the bronze sea. The temple needs water, and water it has.
There was, in the temple, a huge sea of bronze, for the priests to bathe.
He made the Sea of cast metal, a circle in shape,
ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high…
There were also ten basins with water for washing the animals for sacrifice.
In them the things to be used for the burnt offerings were rinsed,
but the Sea was to be used by the priests for washing.
The city of David is famed for its waterworks; the city Jerusalem is known for her pools. From the spring of Gihon to the deep pools of Solomon, water flowed endlessly into the city.
Above all, the water was fed to the temple, bursting with torrents of water to use. A tide flowing in, and a stream flowing out. Both John and Ezekiel saw it spring forth.
Lo, water is springing forth
from under the threshold of the temple eastward,
for the front of the temple faces east,
and the water is coming down from beneath,
from the right side of the temple,
from the south of the altar.
And he made me go through the north gate,
and made me turn back around,
toward the outer gate, which faces east,
and lo, water is coming forth from the right side.
Like the water flowing from the side of Christ on the cross, water flows from the temple, growing still stronger the further it runs, bringing life and healing to all in its path.
These waters that issue forth
toward the dunes to the east,
and go down to the plains of the desert,
shall go into the sea, and shall go out,
and the waters shall be healed.
And every living creature that crawls
wherever the torrent shall come, shall live.
And there shall be fish in abundance
after these waters shall come there,
and they shall be healed,
and all things, to which the torrent shall come,
The river flows out from the side of the temple, the dwelling of Wisdom, like Eden of old. It is God who pours out; it is Wisdom who flows. She dwells in the temple as in Christ himself; she flows from his side bringing healing and life.
I, Wisdom, gush rivers.
I, like the brook of a river of a mighty torrent,
I, like the channel of a river, like a waterway,
came out of paradise.
‘I will water my garden of plants,
and I will water abundantly
the fruits of my meadow.’
And behold my brook became a great river,
and my river: close to a sea.
Wisdom flows forth from the side of the temple; she flows from the side of the body of Christ. She proceeds from the side of the Father in heaven, like Eve springing forth from the pierced side of Adam.
Wisdom is Paraclete: the “one at the side.” Like a stream flowing out, she is life and salvation.
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia!
And all to whom that water came were saved.
(Easter hymn “Vidi Aquam”)
Wisdom, Who Dwells in the Garden
You who dwell in the gardens,
with companions harkening;
let me hear your voice.
(Song of Songs 8:13)
The temple sits over an ocean of waters. The temple is windy, surrounded by wind. The temple is dark in the Holy of Holies, and there in the darkness: the beating of wings.
The temple recreates the scene of creation, when Wisdom hovered over the waters in darkness, like a mighty wind on the face of the deep.
Darkness was upon the face of the deep,
and the Spirit of God swept over the waters.
The temple is likewise a Garden of Eden, with trees carved in stone, and flowers of gold, and fruits of the pomegranate. The Garden of Eden was guarded by cherubs, so cherubim too fill the whole of the temple.
And he carved all the walls of the temple round about with carved figures of cherubs, and palm trees, and flowers in bloom, within and without.
The temple was like a perpetual spring time, with blossoming flowers and lilies in bloom. For Solomon knew Wisdom dwelled in the garden; he wanted to give her a place she would love.
As the Spirit loves a soul adorned with virtue, so Wisdom loved Solomon and the place he prepared for her.
‘How handsome you are, my love;
and how charming!
Our bed is lush with foliage.
The walls of our house are of cedar,
and our planks are of cypress.’
Indeed he had panelled the whole of the temple with cedar and cypress.
And he lined the interior walls of the temple
with panels of cedar,
from the floor of the temple
to the heights of the ceiling;
and he covered them on the inside with wood,
and covered the floor of the temple
with planks of cypress.
This garden of pleasure was where they would meet, where Wisdom drew man to come join in her banquet. The temple winds spread the enticing aroma of freshly cooked offerings and spices of incense.
I am a garden fountain,
a well of living water,
and streams of Lebanon.
Awake, north wind!
Come, south wind!
Make my garden breathe forth,
may its spice waft abroad.
Let my beloved come to his garden
and eat of its glorious fruits.
The Spirit of Wisdom is surrounded by angels who listen for her voice and obey her command. Solomon asks for the gift of obedience, that he too may hear the soft voice of the Spirit and follow its promptings, whatever it asks.
You who dwell in the gardens,
the companions are attending your voice.
Let me too hear.
She gives her commandment, she calls him to love her, with all of his strength, and his heart, and his soul.
Make haste, my beloved!
Like a gazelle or young hart
on the mountains of spices.
You are beautiful as Tirzah, O my love,
As lovely as Jerusalem
(Song of Songs 4:3)
Solomon dreams as he walks through the temple. The man is in love and his mind starts to roam. All that he looks at reminds him of Wisdom. He sees her face everywhere, under a veil.
He sees the doves brought in as offerings, and he thinks of her…
How beautiful you are, my beloved!
O, how beautiful!
Your eyes are doves.
He beholds two great pillars flanking the entrance to the temple, each of them topped with two hundred pomegranates, and he sees her face.
Your cheeks behind your veil
are like halves of the pomegranate.
Between the pillars flutters the glorious curtain of Solomon, always in motion, like lips, or a tongue, in colors of violet, purple, and scarlet, in silk, covering the temple doorway, the mouth of the temple.
Your lips are like thread of scarlet.
Your mouth is lovely.
As he passes through the curtain, it grabs him for a moment in its folds, embroidered with cherubim in gold thread.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.
He sees lines of sheep in pairs marching across the temple, freshly washed for the sacrifice, and he remembers her smile.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep
coming up from the washing.
each one is matched,
not a one lacks its twin.
Looking out he can see the tower his father built rising up in the air, and he imagines her throat decked with sparkling silver.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
on which hang a thousand bucklers,
each one a brave warrior’s shield.
He sees the wood of the temple, cedar of Lebanon, and the cypress wood and the gold which had come down from Lebanon, the magnificent bronzeworks by the master from Lebanon, and it seems to him that his bride and all her adornments have come from Lebanon to join him.
Come with me from Lebanon, my bride!
Come with me from Lebanon!
The temple surrounds him with carvings of palm trees, laden with coconuts.
Your appearance is stately as a palm tree,
and its clusters, your breasts.
Everywhere around him, Solomon finds Wisdom. He sees her in Jerusalem; he sees her in Lebanon and Carmel, and every corner of the realm. But most of all, he sees her in the house they had built, for them to be together.
I shall enter into my house,
and I shall rest with Wisdom.
Wisdom, Glory Unveiled
The Israelites could not look steadily upon the face of Moses
due to its radiance.
Will not the work of the Spirit be even more radiant?
(2 Corinthians 3:7-8)
The innermost chamber constructed by Solomon, the Holy of Holies, became Wisdom’s dwelling. Surrounded by angels and four golden cherubim, Wisdom comes happily, more eager to join us than we are to call.
‘Draw me! Let us make haste.’
The king has brought me into his inner chambers.
There were no windows in the Holy of Holies, but in the next chamber were latticework windows.
For the temple, he made windows of fixed latticework.
Those unable to enter within, might only gaze through the lattice without.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold he stands behind our wall,
looking through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
Scripture calls blessed, this lookout for Wisdom.
Blessed is the man smitten with Wisdom,
he has the right idea
who ponders her ways in his heart,
and knows her secrets,
pursuing her like a hunter,
lying in wait on her paths,
who looks in at her windows,
and listens at her door.
He calls out to see her:
‘My dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the hollow places of the cliff,
show me your face.’
Face to face she beholds him, and there in his eyes she sees the reflection of herself in his soul:
His eyes are like doves.
She captures his heart with a glimpse of her eye.
‘You have ravished my heart,
my sister, my bride,
You have ravished my heart
with one look of your eyes…’
For a sinful man, it is too much to bear.
‘Turn away your eyes from me,
for they overwhelm me.’
Like Peter we cry out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” Like the centurion we say, “I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.”
And so then, like Moses, she veils her face that her light might not blind us, and behind the curtain of Solomon she dwells in darkness, in the innermost chamber. A pinpoint of light through the lattice without, is more than enough to bedazzle the soul with the brilliance of Wisdom.
…Until the Redeemer, the Lamb, should be sacrificed, taking away the blind sin of the world. And man should be able to see the full glory, the face now unveiled, of the Spirit of God.
And behold the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top even to the bottom.
The Lamb has been slain; man is redeemed, and Wisdom parts her veil.
And now man is ready to look in her eyes.
My sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one!
What Wisdom is, and what was her origin, I will declare,
and I will not hide from you the mysteries of God,
but will seek her out from the beginning of her birth.
Eve has no father; Eve has no mother. Eve was not born; Eve was not sired. She came forth from Adam as “one coming forth.” Not from his loins, not from a womb, but straight from his side did she come forth to be.
The Spirit, like Eve, was never begotten. The Spirit comes forth from the heart of the Father. Not by begetting, not by a birth, but just by “proceeding,” the Spirit comes forth.
Eve calls no man father; she calls no one mother. Her origin: Adam. She came from his side.
The Son has a Father: the one who begot him. The Spirit, unbegotten, was fathered by none. The Spirit came forth from the Father indeed, but not by begetting. The Spirit came forth just as one “coming forth.”
In a looser sense, Adam is mother and father to Eve: father because he is a man and her origin; mother because his side “gave birth” to Eve.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem speaks in this sense of Eve’s birth from Adam:
At first, the feminine sex was obliged to give thanks to men, because Eve, who was born of Adam but not conceived by a mother, was in a certain sense born of a man.
In a certain sense, Eve was born, coming forth from Adam as though from a mother.
In a certain sense, the Spirit is born, coming forth from the Father as though from a mother.
In this sense, Scripture speaks of a “birth” of the Spirit of Wisdom:
What Wisdom is,
and what was her origin,
I will declare,
and I will not hide from you
the mysteries of God,
but will seek her out
from the beginning of her birth.
In this certain sense, the Bride in Canticles speaks of her “mother,” the one from whom she comes forth.
As Christ spoke of the mansions of his Father where he would lead us, Wisdom speaks of the house of her “mother,” where she will bring us.
I found him whom my soul loves:
I held him and I will not let him go,
till I bring him into the house of my mother.
The Son calls God Father, for the Father begot him. The Son is the Only-Begotten of God. The Spirit allows there should be no confusion. For if the Spirit were to call God as “Father,” some would believe the Spirit too were begotten. To avoid this confusion the Bride speaks obliquely of a “mother” from whom she comes forth like a daughter.
Eve can call Adam her “father” or “mother” or even her “brother,” but none of these strictly describe who he is.
The Bride likewise speaks of her mother and brothers: the Father and Son in a sense are like these. “Mother” because she proceeds from the Father; “brothers” because they all share the same nature.
Eve is the only one who might call Adam “mother,” because she uniquely came forth from his side. All of her children she teaches them rightly to call Adam “Father,” for in the full sense he has truly begotten them.
The Spirit might speak, thus, of God as a mother, for the Spirit uniquely proceeds forth from God. The Spirit, however, tells all of God’s children to call God as “Father,” for he has adopted them as his own sons.
When the fullness of the time was come,
God sent his Son,
made of a woman,
made under the law,
that he might redeem those
who were under the law,
that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because you are sons,
God has sent the Spirit of his Son
into your hearts,
crying: ‘Abba, Father.’
Wisdom, Among the Trinity
We have a little sister…
(Song of Songs 8:8)
When we look at Adam we see clearly our father, for we are begotten and he did beget us. But if we were able to see him through Eve’s eyes, he would look somewhat different, through eyes unbegotten.
She does not see a father, for he did not beget her. She came from his side; he looks somewhat like mother. Or maybe her equal, he is sort of like brother. Her vision, unique, is quite different than ours.
So likewise with Wisdom, who is unbegotten, her eyes see things differently than we do see.
The Canticle of Canticles is the tale of a love story: the tale of how Wisdom loves man to the end. It is told by the Bride who is Wisdom, the lovesick. We see through her eyes, and we see in her mind. We meet her own family: the Three who are One. We see them as she sees; they look somewhat different. We see all creation through eyes unbegotten.
She speaks of the day of the fall of the angels, when Lucifer, bright as the sun, stirred his minions, the “sons of God” (angels), to rise up against her.
Do not fear me because I am dark.
The sun cast a scorching glare at me;
the sons of my mother fought against me.
As Eve might call Adam her brother in some sense, for both of them came from the hand of one God, so too Wisdom speaks of the Son as her brother, for she and the Son, from the Father proceed.
She wishes man truly were like Christ, her brother, for then she could love man with yet greater love, and no taunting demon could ever deride her for loving mankind with a love unrequited.
O, that you were like my Brother,
nursed by my mother.
Then I find you, in front of everyone,
and I kiss you,
and none could despise me.
The story begins with her brought to the chamber, the Holy of Holies, which man made for her. The story concludes with her bringing mankind to the heavenly mansion which God made for us.
I will take hold of you,
and bring you into my mother’s house.
The three of the Trinity are equal in nature. As equals, the Father and Son speak of Wisdom as though she were sister, and they were her brothers. And like every brother, they want to protect her and spare her from hurt as her love life unfolds.
Our sister is little, and has yet no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister
until the day she is spoken for?
They foresee her as virgin, a wall strongly guarded. They foresee her as mother, a door to give birth.
Be she a wall, we build on her a battlement of silver.
Be she a door, we enclose her with panels of cedar.
Virgin and Mother: they both did come true. For the temple was truly a bulwark of silver, and the Holy of Holies, the womb of the temple, was paneled with cedar from ceiling to floor. Indeed, cedar and silver were so much abundant, they filled all Jerusalem in Solomon’s day.
And he made silver to be as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars to be as common as sycamores which grow in the plains.
Wisdom assures her brothers she is ever a wall; she reminds them she is mature, and she will be, for her beloved, only peace and true love.
I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers,
and I, in his eyes, am as one finding peace.
Dina, the daughter of Leah,
went out to play with the daughters of the land.
(cf. Genesis 34:1)
Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dina, avenged her lost honor with utmost severity. A Canaanite prince had deflowered the virgin, and no reparations could make it alright. He offered to marry her, offered his treasures; he pledged to be circumcised, but to no avail. The brothers of Dina would give no forgiveness. They slew him and all of his city as well.
When asked why they did it, the brothers replied,
‘Should he make of our sister a harlot to be?’
St. John saw two women in his Revelation, one clothed with the sun, and the other a harlot. One gave birth to Christ, while the other was drunken. One represents Wisdom, the other a devil.
Let no one confuse holy Wisdom with deviltry. Let no one make Wisdom a harlot to be. Wisdom and Folly: one holy, one evil, cannot be confused; it would be blasphemy.
By the power of the Spirit, the Lord cast out demons.
But when the Pharisees heard this,
they said to themselves,
‘It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of the devils,
that this man can exorcise these other demons.’
But Jesus corrected them, saying,
‘It is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons.’
And then most severely he spoke of the vengeance in store for a man who makes of the Spirit a devilish harlot.
‘Every sin, every blasphemy,
shall be forgiven,
but he who blasphemes the Spirit
shall not be forgiven.
And whoever speaks against the Son of man,
it shall be forgiven him,
but he who speaks against the Holy Spirit,
it shall not be forgiven,
neither in this world, nor in the world to come.’
He said this because they had said,
‘He has an unclean spirit.’
The Son came to suffer: a Lamb to be slaughtered. The Father prepared him a body to die. The Spirit however must not be molested: no grievance, no slight, no, not even a word.
Like cherubim guarding the lost Tree of Life; like flames of a sword turning every which way, the Father and Son shield and shelter the Spirit, admonishing all to treat Wisdom with care.
Do not suppress the Spirit.
Do not grieve the Spirit.
Who blasphemes the Spirit shall not be forgiven.
Like brothers protecting a sister’s good honor, God defends Wisdom and keeps her from harm.
His people rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit;
therefore he became their enemy;
he himself fought against them.
Who plays false with Wisdom, or treats her as folly, has made her a harlot, and called her unclean. Who keeps up this blasphemy right to the end will get no forgiveness from the brothers of Wisdom.
A garden enclosed is my sister, my bride,
a spring walled around,
a fountain sealed well.
Wisdom, From Above
Wisdom from above is first of all chaste.
Wisdom and Folly have both spread their table. The one is the Spirit with bounty divine; the other a harlot who drags down to hell.
Folly is rowdy and full of allurements,
knowing nothing at all,
sitting at the door of her house,
upon a seat, in a high place of the city,
calling to those who pass by on their journey:
‘Whoever is gullible, let him turn aside here.’
And to the fool she said,
‘Stolen waters are sweeter,
and bread eaten in secret tastes better.’
And he did not know that giants are there,
and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
St. John saw her too, the devilish Folly, drunk with the blood of the martyrs and saints. Wisdom is like unto heaven’s Jerusalem, home of the saints, while Folly appears like the city of Babylon, abode of the damned.
I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet colored beast,
full of names of blasphemy,
having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was clothed round about with purple and scarlet,
and gilt with gold, and precious stones and pearls,
having a golden cup in her hand,
full of the abomination and filthiness of her fornication.
And on her forehead was written a name,
‘Babylon the great,
the mother of the fornications
and abominations of the earth.’
And I saw the woman drunk
with the blood of the saints,
and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
Her drunken party ends badly.
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen,
and is become the habitation of devils,
and the hold of every unclean spirit,
and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird.
Because all nations have drunk of the wine
of the wrath of her fornication;
and the kings of the earth
have committed fornication with her,
and the merchants of the earth
have been made rich by the power of her delicacies.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying,
‘Go out from her, my people,
that you may not be partakers of her sins,
that you may not receive of her plagues.’
Wisdom gathers together all saints in her mantle, but all children of God must run far away from Folly.
St. James likewise contrasts the Wisdom on high, with her devilish counterfeit. May God grant us wisdom to tell them apart.
Who is a wise man,
endowed with knowledge among you?
Let him show, by good conduct, his works
in the meekness of wisdom.
But if you have bitter jealousy
and rivalry in your hearts,
glory not, and be not liars against the truth.
For this is not wisdom, descending from above,
but earthly, sensual, and devilish.
For where there is jealousy and rivalry,
there is inconstancy, and every evil work.
But the Wisdom that is from above,
first indeed, is chaste,
then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded,
consenting to the good,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without prejudice, without dissimulation.
And the fruit of justice is sown in peace,
by those making peace.
Wisdom, True Dove
The Spirit of God descended as a dove.
The impostors of Wisdom are many and countless: Folly and Babylon, Semiramis, Ashtoreth… But Wisdom it was who saved Noah from death.
When water destroyed the earth due to sin,
Wisdom healed it again,
setting the course of the just man on fragile wood.
Her symbol, the dove, brought back hope of new life: her beak bore an olive branch – peace had returned. And ever since then, every goddess who came, claimed the holy white dove as her very own symbol.
But Wisdom alone was the only true dove. All others, impostors: the dove does not fit. Like princesses trying to put on a slipper, these false queens of heaven were devils disguised.
Our Lord, in his day, spoke about his impostors: false shepherds and saviors, and bogus messiahs.
He who does not enter through the door to the sheepfold,
but hops over the wall:
that one is a thief and a robber.
He who enters through the door
is shepherd of the sheep;
to him the doorkeeper opens,
and the sheep hear his voice,
and his own sheep he calls by name,
and leads them forth…
The sheep follow him,
because they know his voice;
a stranger they will not follow,
but will flee from him,
because they do not know the voice of strangers…
I am the door of the sheep;
all who came before me are thieves and robbers…
The thief does not come,
except to steal, and kill, and destroy.
And so the impostors of Wisdom came subtly, disguising as doves, but intending to kill. They asked for their sacrifice, asked for young children, and death and destruction was all they brought forth.
They did works hateful to you
by their sorceries, and wicked sacrifices.
And those merciless murderers of their own children,
and eaters of men’s bowels,
and devourers of blood:
those parents sacrificed with their own hands helpless souls.
Finally Josiah put an end to the madness. He expelled the impostors, like thieves from the temple. He tore down their altars, and slaughtered their priests and ended their sacrifices all through the land.
How unlike these devils is Wisdom divine. Her immaculate essence is dove-like, like Mary.
My dove, she is one.
My perfect, she is one.
She, the highly favored daughter of her mother,
of the one who gave her birth.
The maidens saw her, and call her blessed.
As Mary embodies the Church in her person, so Folly may one day be found in the flesh: a foul anti-Mary, embodying evil, and mother of all that is called anti-Christ.
Folly presents herself as Anti-Wisdom: a person, a city, a devilish spirit. “Virgin of Babylon, Daughter of Babel, Queen of Chaldeans,” she wishes to be.
“I am queen forever,
I shall not be widowed,
nor lose any children;
I am, and none else!”
She wants to be virgin and mother like Wisdom, she claims she’s divine, the “I Am, and none else.” But all of this mockery, lies, and hypocrisy, can’t hold a candle to Wisdom, true dove, who out of the waters brings forth our new life: our savior and shepherd, the one true messiah.
Jesus also being baptized and praying,
heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove,
in bodily form,
and a voice came from heaven:
‘You are my beloved Son;
in you I am well pleased.’
Wisdom, Spirit of Forgiveness
Tax collectors and harlots are entering the kingdom of God before you.
Three arks there have been: of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
- The Ark of Covenant showed forth the Son, bearing the signs of priest, prophet and king.
- The temple itself was an ark of the Spirit, a house made for Wisdom by Solomon’s hand.
- And thirdly the Ark of the Flood shows the Father, bearing within it the life of creation.
The ark of the flood, filled with life, was an image of God the Creator, in whom dwells the Spirit. After the flood, living creatures poured forth, like the Spirit of life pouring forth from the Father.
From the side of the Ark came forth all life on earth, like the bosom of Adam from which came forth Eve: she who is mother of all those who live.
From the Ark, Noah sent forth the dove to assay, like the Father sent his Spirit, who searches all things. The dove brings good news of new life for all men, as the Spirit brings news of the Gospel to man.
St. John the Baptist proclaimed the good news, bidding his listeners to repent of their sins.
‘Turn from your sin;
Heaven’s Kingdom is near.’
They washed in the Jordan to make themselves clean. Of John, Jesus said:
John came to you, holy,
and you did not believe him.
But tax collectors and harlots
believed what he said.
Amen I say to you,
the tax collectors and harlots
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
They believed with their heart and amended their lives. Their faith and their works gave to sinners new life. As St. James instructed:
Do you see that by works a man is justified,
and not by faith only?
And in like manner, also Rahab the harlot:
was not she justified by works,
receiving the messengers,
and sending them out another way?
And so it was, harlots became now like Wisdom. They were washed and made clean, and reborn by the Spirit. The Spirit abides in them, drawing them close to Christ: the king of the kingdom, whose blood makes robes white.
Their faith and good works, just like Rahab the harlot, has made them a sister and mother of Christ. And Rahab became a real mother of Jesus, through David, the son of her great grandson Jesse.
Salmon begot Boaz of Rahab,
and Boaz begot Obed of Ruth,
and Obed begot Jesse,
and Jesse begot David the king.
The world is reborn by the flood’s cleansing waters, as baptism washes the soul from all sin. The Spirit is hovering over the waters, and finding her home in the soul whom she loves.
In his Commentary on Isaiah, St. Jerome quotes favorably an ancient text:
And it came to pass
when the Lord was come up out of the water,
the whole fountain of the Holy Spirit descended
and rested upon him,
and said to him:
‘My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for you,
that you should come, and I might rest in you,
for you are my rest.
‘You are my first-begotten Son
who reigns forever.’
Rahab and Wisdom can both of them say,
“You are my Son.
I find my rest in you.”
Wisdom, Virgin of Virgins
I am a wall.
(Song of Songs 8:10)
Virgin of virgins is Wisdom the Spirit. She is a spirit “intelligent, holy, one, manifold, subtle, eloquent, active, inviolate, distinct, invulnerable.”
For Wisdom is more active than all active things:
and reaches everywhere by reason of her purity.
For she is a vapor of the power of God,
a pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God,
and therefore nothing foul runs into her.
St. James notes her purity:
Wisdom from above is first of all chaste.
Solomon extols her virtue:
My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed,
a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.
Wisdom says of herself,
‘I am a wall.’
The “wall,” as a symbol, means virtue inviolate. The Church, like a virgin presented to Christ, is described by St. John as the city of God: the new Jerusalem, with a massive high wall.
Come, and I will show you the bride,
the spouse of the Lamb.
And he took me up in spirit
to a great and high mountain:
and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God,
having the glory of God.
And the light thereof was like to a precious stone,
as to the jasper stone, even as crystal.
And it had a wall great and high…
And he measured the wall thereof
a hundred and forty-four cubits,
the measure of a man, which is that of an angel.
And the building of the wall was of jasper stone,
and the city itself: pure gold, like clear glass.
The Spirit gives birth to her children the saints as a virgin gives birth: completely immaculate. Her womb is the watery baptismal font. Her children are born as was Jesus their Lord: born of a virgin who knew of no man.
She is the vineyard with a wall all around: a virgin and mother, both fruitful and walled. She is the city with wall and with gates: virgin and mother, sealed up, yet ajar.
Her gates give rebirth to her children the saints: the children of Israel and all of the Church. Her children were born from all twelve of the tribes, and reborn from the twelve first apostles of Christ.
And it had a wall great and high,
having twelve gates,
and in the gates twelve angels,
and names written thereon,
which are the names of the twelve tribes
of the children of Israel…
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations,
and in them, the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
And he that spoke with me, had a measure
of a reed of gold,
to measure the city and the gates thereof,
and the wall.
Measure the gates, and then measure the wall. Certify virgin, and certify mother. “Come place your hand in the wound in my side. Be not unbelieving, but believe it is true.” Wisdom comes forth from a virgin the Father, like Eve from the side of the virginal Adam. And Wisdom gives birth to all saints as a virgin, like Mary gave birth as a virgin to Christ.
Wisdom, Virgin and Mother
As a mother she shall meet him,
and as a virgin she shall take him.
Wisdom is model for virgins and mothers. And Wisdom is model for all virgin mothers. Wisdom is model for Mary, her icon. And Wisdom is model for chaste Mother Church.
Wisdom divine is the model for Mary, and Mary immaculate models the Church. Israel, Jerusalem, God’s holy bride, are all virgin mothers, reflections of Wisdom.
Unlike the pagans, whose gods and whose goddesses mate and give birth to creation and such, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of Wisdom are all ever-virgin: they give birth on their own.
The Father gives birth to the Son in eternity: “born of the Father before all the ages.” Born God from God, born a light from true light, born virgin from virgin: the Father and Son.
The Son of the Father, eternally born, does all that he sees which the Father is doing: begetting an image of his very self. A mystical body he brings into being, filled with his Spirit who fills it with life. The Church is the likeness of Christ upon earth, born from his side as he hung on the cross. He suffered and died for her, healed her, redeemed her, and made her immaculate: virgin like him.
The Son became man, in the fullness of time. The Word became flesh, of the Spirit and Mary. Born “God among us” by Mary and Wisdom, both of them virgins before and to come.
The Son has two fathers, in heaven and earth. St. Joseph adopted him, took him as son by law, gave him his title, his house, and his name. As virginal father, St Joseph the chaste, had a son without woman; this was not by begetting.
The Son has two mothers [Wisdom and Mary], in heaven and earth.
The Father eternally bears his own Son; the Spirit eternally makes him her own. She claims him as Son, gives him life, love, and nurturing: gives to him all that a mother should give. The Spirit eternally mothers the Son, but this eternal mothering is not begetting.
The Son has two mothers, in time he was born of them: Wisdom and Mary conceived him as man. Pure generation, pure motherhood, both of them: the Spirit and Mary gave birth to a babe.
The Son has two natures, divine and of man. The Father begets him divinely, eternally; the Spirit and Mary both bore him as man.
And so it is twice that the Son has his birth: once by the Father, eternally so; and once by the Spirit and Mary in time. These separate begettings preserve their virginity, for they did not mate: it was two virgin births, one in eternity, and one in our time.
Born from the virginal Father eternally; born of the Virgin and Wisdom in time, the Son is begotten by Father and Mother, but separately so, as from two virgin births. The two of his natures allowed him two births.
The angel declared all these fathers and mothers, describing how Jesus incarnate would be. As Gabriel said to the Virgin most blessed:
- “you shall bear a son…” He will be the Son of Mary, his earthly mother, at his becoming man.
- “He shall be called Son of the Most High…” He is ever the eternal Son of the heavenly Father.
- “The Lord God shall give him the throne of David his father…” He will be the lawful son of Joseph, from whom he inherits the kingly title of Son of David, since Joseph descended from David through Solomon.
And Mary asked, “How shall this be, since I am a virgin?”
- “The Holy Spirit will…overshadow you; therefore the thing to be born will also be called Holy, Son of God…” The Son, who is eternally the Son of God, begotten by the Father, is now “also” called Son of God in virtue of the Holy Spirit’s participation in the Incarnation.
The Son becomes flesh of the Spirit and Mary. They bear him together, united as one: the shade of the Spirit and the shade of the womb form one single darkness where God becomes man.
In the shadow of shadows the Word will incarnate. The angel explains, thus is “how it shall be.” Virgin and virgin, mother and mother, Wisdom and Mary give flesh to God’s Son.
And Mary said,
“See the bondmaid of the Lord.
Let it be to me as you say.”
Wisdom, Power of the Most High
In her is an intelligent spirit…all-powerful.
The Gospel of Luke shows the Spirit as power, sent down to man from the Father most high. In the words of our Lord:
‘I will send the promise of my Father upon you.
Stay in the city till you be endued with power from on high.’
And again in Acts:
‘But you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you,
and you shall bear witness to me in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea, and Samaria,
and even to the ends of the earth.’
The disciples were filled with the Spirit and power, as Jesus foretold, on the morning of Pentecost, like Jesus himself had been filled from the start, which Peter describes, when he says of the Lord:
‘God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.’
In the power of the Spirit, Jesus baffles temptation, beginning his ministry throughout all the land.
And all the temptation being ended, the devil departed from him for a time. Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit, into Galilee, and the fame of him went throughout the whole country.
Solomon, too, writes of Wisdom “all-powerful,” a breath of the power of almighty God.
She is a breath of God’s power,
a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty.
The archangel Gabriel speaks of the Spirit, the Power of God, who will come over Mary:
‘The Holy Spirit shall overtake you,
and the Power of the Most High
shall overshadow you;
therefore also, the thing which shall be born of you
shall be called Holy, Son of God.’
Holy the Spirit, and Holy the babe. Holy from Holy, the Son becomes man. Born of the Spirit, as First in the kingdom, he bids those who follow him to be born anew. Born of the Spirit, we enter the kingdom, following him who was born of her first. Son of the Father throughout all eternity, Son born of Wisdom and Mary in time.
Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, was hid in the shadow of Mary’s pure womb, and Mary the virgin was shadowed by Wisdom. Wisdom and Mary formed one single womb, bearing within them the Way, Truth, and Life.
I am the mother of fair love, and of fear,
of knowledge, and of holy hope.
In me: all grace of the Way and of Truth.
In me: all hope of Life and of virtue.
The archangel Gabriel, God’s very messenger, sent to explain the divine Incarnation, tells the relation of Spirit and Son:
The Son, who is Son of the Father eternally, now “also” is therefore called Son due to Wisdom who shadowed the virgin and made Christ incarnate, and bore him in time, whom she had not born before.
Born God without mother; born man without father, a holy chiasmus is here to be found. So likewise is Joseph, who claimed him on earth, reflected in Wisdom who claimed him in heaven.
Till one day by Wisdom he truly was born, of Mary the virgin, in fullness of time. Wisdom who claimed him in heaven as God, at last truly bore him as man upon earth.
“[This is] the universal and undivided creed
by which the whole body of the faithful profess
that they believe in God the Father Almighty,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Holy Spirit
and the Virgin Mary.
(qui natus est de Spiritu sancto et Maria Virgine)”
-Pope St. Leo the Great
Wisdom, Mother of Christ
Fear not to receive Mary your wife, for,
that begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus the Lord said to all his disciples, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” He pointed to them who were gathered to listen. “Who does the will of my Father in heaven: he is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
We are the mother of Christ when we hear him. Christ dwells within us: a babe in our bosom.
‘If anyone love me, and keep my command,
my Father will love him; we will come to his soul,
and make him our homestead, and dwell there, within.’
The Spirit of God does the will of the Father, and thus is a mother of Christ in this sense, as Origen explains:
If anyone should lend credence to the gospel according to the Hebrews, where the Savior himself says, “My mother, the Holy Spirit, took me just now by a single hair and carried me off to the great mount Tabor,” he will have to face the difficulty of explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ when the Spirit itself was brought into existence through the Word.
But neither the passage nor this difficulty is hard to explain. For if he who does the will of the Father in heaven is Christ’s brother and sister and mother, and if the name of brother of Christ may be applied, not only to the race of men, but to beings of diviner rank than men, then there is nothing absurd in the Holy Spirit’s being His mother, since everyone is His mother who does the will of the Father in heaven.
The great St. Jerome, most learned of scholars, had access to writings we no longer possess. He quotes from one here, which he had recently translated from Hebrew to Greek and to Latin as well, to help cast a light on his comments on Micah.
“And the daughter-in-law rises up against her mother-in-law. (Micah 7:6),” which seems difficult to be understood metaphorically. But he who has read the Song of Songs and understands the spouse of the soul to be the Word of God, and who gives credit to the gospel according to the Hebrews, which I have recently translated, in which it is said by the person of the Savior, “Just now, my mother, the Holy Spirit, took me by a single hair,” will not hesitate to say that the Word of God is sprung from the Spirit, and that the soul, which is the spouse of the Word, has as a mother-in-law the Holy Spirit, who in Hebrew is called by the feminine gender word, “Ruach” (Spirit).
The Spirit is breath which gives shape to the Word. The Word has been born from the Breath, as its mother. So says St. Jerome, who described their relation: “the Word of God sprang from the Spirit,” above.
The Spirit is mother of Christ, for the Spirit “harkens to the Father and does what he says.” The Spirit is mother of Christ, for the Spirit “serves as the breath which gives shape to the Word.” And more so, the Spirit is Mother of Christ in a way which only is shared by the Virgin who bore him, for the Spirit and Mary alone gave to Christ a flesh of his own as a man upon earth.
As the Council of Chalcedon taught:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, except sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the virgin, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood.
Now, the Son was not born of Mary on her own, but with the collaboration of the Holy Spirit. The Council of Constantinople mentions the Spirit and Mary in one breath:
…who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Mary the virgin, and was made man.
This echoes the language of Matthew’s genealogy, where a son is described as being born “of” (ἐκ) his mother, for example: Zalmon begot Boaz “of Rahab” (ἐκ τῆς Ῥαχάβ), and similarly where Matthew reports the angel saying to St. Joseph in a dream,
“Fear not to receive Mary your betrothed, for,
that begotten in her is
of the Holy Spirit
(ἐκ Πνεύματός Ἁγίου).”
Wisdom, Wood of the Cross
She is Tree of Life to those who take hold of her,
and he who holds her fast is blessed.
Jesus grew up in the cradle of Wisdom; he grew up in Egypt, where Wisdom was found. There, Alexandria, bright with its lighthouse, enlightened the world with its teachings of Wisdom.
As Jesus grew bigger, in wisdom and stature, growing in favor with God and with men, he spoke in the temple when he was but twelve years old. Father and mother both welcomed him home.
For years he would breathe in the fragrance of wood, as the cedar and cypress provided his living. When Joseph had died, he began a new journey, and opened the scroll of Isaiah to preach.
The Spirit of the Lord I Am is upon me,
for I Am has anointed me,
to proclaim good news to the humble,
sending me to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim deliverance to the captives,
and release to those imprisoned,
to proclaim the year of the good pleasure of I Am,
and the day of the vengeance of our God.
To comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Sion,
to give them beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of sorrow,
a garment of praise for the spirit of grief,
and they shall be called, ‘trees of righteousness,
the plantings of I Am,’ for glory.
Wisdom describes herself often as tree:
I took root in an honorable people,
and in the portion of my God: his inheritance.
And my abode is in the full assembly of the saints.
I was exalted like a cedar in Lebanon
and as a cypress tree on mount Sion.
I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades,
and as a rose plant in Jericho.
As a fair olive tree in the plains
and as a plane tree by the water in the streets,
was I exalted.
I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatic balm;
I yielded a sweet odor like the best of myrrh,
and I perfumed my dwelling as storax,
and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes,
and as the frankincense not cut,
and my odor is as the purest balm.
I have stretched out my branches as the terebinth,
and my branches are glorious and graceful.
I have brought forth aroma like the grapevine,
and my flowers yield fruit that is precious and copious.
Proverbs describes her as ‘tree of life’:
She is Tree of Life to those who take hold of her,
and he who holds her fast is blessed.
Jesus took hold of her, when came his hour. He kissed and embraced the wood cross that they gave him. She who is Tree of Life, stands now revealed as the Cross of the Lord, bearing fruit of salvation.
Wisdom embraced Jesus tight on the cross. Fastened with nails, he was held in her arms. She: the true Tree of Life; he: our salvation, the fruit of the tree, a sweet cure for our sin.
When he had died, Wisdom gave him to Mary. She too would cradle her son in her arms. Wisdom and Mary, they both held their baby, rocking their child who died on the cross.
If any man would come after me,
let him take hold of his cross,
and follow me.
Wisdom, Pillar of Cloud
A cloud overshadowed their camp.
As Jesus grew up as a stranger in Egypt, so Israel too dwelt there young, as a nation: the twelve sons of Jacob had settled in Egypt, fleeing a famine, with Joseph’s protection.
But then came oppression and time for deliverance: the time for the son to return to his birthright.
Israel was a child, and I loved him:
and I called my son out of Egypt.
The children of Israel ate the first Passover wearing their sandals, prepared for a journey. Wisdom was with them, she worked within Moses, smiting oppression, and guiding to freedom.
She entered into the soul of the servant of God,
and stood against dreadful kings,
in wonders and signs.
And she gave to the just the wages of their labors,
and conducted them in a wonderful way.
And she was to them as a shelter by day,
and a starry flame by night.
And she brought them through the Red Sea,
and bore them through a great water.
Israel fled while Egyptians charged after them, zig-zagging through the ravines of the Sinai. Together they danced to and fro through the badlands: evil and good danced the dance of two camps.
Abel and Cain danced the dance of two camps; Cain slew his brother, a lamb on the altar.
Jacob and Esau both danced in the womb, wrestling together, they came to a truce.
An angel and Jacob both wrestled throughout the night, dancing a dance until blessing was given. Struggle is struggle, on earth and in heaven; the two camps are dancing, and never the same.
The wheat and the tares both sway in the waving wind; Wisdom and Folly both beckon to man. Each reaches out to come over to their camp; each reaches out to dance only with them.
There in between the Egyptians and Moses, there in the midst of the two camps is Wisdom:
a spiraling pillar of cloud in the daytime, a fiery swirling of stars in the night.
Wisdom is dancing the dance of two camps, wearing her sandals, all dressed for the journey.
Turn, turn, Shulamita!
Turn, turn, that we may behold you!
What do you see in the Shulamita?
The dance of two camps.
How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O regal maiden!
The good she invites to stay safe in her shelter, the wicked she bids to repent and change camps. To good and to evil, by day and by night, she shows them the way, like a dance they might follow.
I Am goes before them,
by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them in the way,
and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light,
to go by day and by night.
At Pentecost, Wisdom came down in a whirlwind, swirling the air, throwing light like a fire. Peter stood up and called out to the people; filled with the Spirit, he bade them repent.
Now when they had heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they said to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles:
‘Men and brothers, what should we do?’
And Peter said to them:
‘Do penance, and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ,
for the remission of your sins,
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is to you, and to your children,
and to all who are far off,
whomever the Lord our God shall call.’
And with very many other words did he testify
and exhort them, saying:
‘Save yourselves from this perverse generation.’
Those therefore who received his word, were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Three thousand souls flee a bad generation; three thousand souls led by Wisdom change camp. Under her cloud they will now find their shelter; under her guidance they learn a new dance.
Wisdom, Fire from Heaven
There came a sound from heaven,
as of a mighty wind coming,
and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them parted tongues
as it were of fire,
and it rested upon every one of them,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
The solemn betrothal of Wisdom and Solomon happened the day the new temple was christened. He at the altar, and she in the heavens: he offered up sacrifice, she answered with fire.
And king Solomon and all the assembly of Israel,
and all that were gathered together before the ark,
sacrificed rams and oxen without number,
so great was the multitude of the victims…
Then Solomon said,
‘I Am has spoken to dwell in a dark cloud,
and I, I have built a house for you to live in,
a permanent place for your dwelling, to the ages…’
And when Solomon finished offering prayer,
then fire comes down from the heavens,
and consumes the burnt-offering and the sacrifices,
and the Glory of I Am filled the house.
And the priests were not able to go into the house of I Am,
because the Glory of I Am filled the house of I Am.
And all the sons of Israel are looking on the descending of the fire,
and the Glory of I Am on the house,
and they bow, faces to the earth, on the pavement,
and do obeisance, and give thanks to I Am,
whose mercy endures forever.
And the king and all the people
are sacrificing a sacrifice before I Am,
and king Solomon sacrifices the sacrifice:
of the herd, twenty-two thousand,
and of the flock, a hundred and twenty thousand.
And the king and all the people dedicate the house of God.
And Solomon makes the feast to go on for seven days,
and all Israel with him, a vast assembly,
from the entrance of Hamath
to the river of Egypt…
And I Am appears to Solomon by night,
and says to him,
‘I have heard your prayer,
and I have chosen this place for me,
as a house of sacrifice.
‘If I restrain the heavens and there is no rain,
and if I lay charge on the locust to consume the land,
and if I send pestilence among my people,
and my people on whom my name is called be humbled,
and pray, and seek my face,
and turn back from their evil ways,
then I will hear from the heavens,
and forgive their sin, and heal their land.
‘Now, my eyes are open,
and my ears attentive, to the prayer of this place;
and now, I have chosen and sanctified this house
for my name being there unto the age;
yes, my eyes and my heart are here, all days.
if you walk before me
as David your father walked,
and do all I have commanded you,
and keep my statutes and my judgments,
then I have established the throne of your kingdom,
as I made covenant with David your father,
‘You shall never lack a descendant of yours
to be ruler in Israel.’
Wisdom and Solomon completed their covenant, he brought her to his house, where she always would live with him. She swept in like cloud and fire, and fixed the crown upon his head. The seven day wedding feast saw endless feasting: the smoke of the offerings, rising like incense.
Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness,
like palm trees of smoke,
perfumed myrrh, and spiced frankincense,
from every powder of the merchant?…
…Come and see, you daughters of Sion,
see king Solomon wearing the diadem,
wherewith his mother crowned him
in the day of his espousals,
in the day of the joy of his heart.
Jesus spoke of the Spirit,
whom those believing in him would one day receive.
For, the Holy Spirit was not yet given,
because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Abraham sacrificed a heifer and she-goat, a ram, and a dove, and a young little pigeon. He split the large animals, laid them in halves around. I Am came down like a fire between them.
And when the sun had set,
and thick darkness lay all about,
behold, a furnace of smoke, and a lamp of fire,
passed over between the pieces.
Moses established a tent for I Am, housing the ark and the altar and lampstand. On the first day when he offered a sacrifice, I Am came down, in a cloud and in fire.
And the altar of burnt-offering he placed
at the door of the tabernacle of the meeting tent,
and offered upon it the burnt-offering
and the grain-offering,
as I Am commanded…
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting,
and the glory of I Am filled the tabernacle.
And Moses was not able to enter
into the tent of meeting,
because the cloud abode thereon,
and the glory of I Am filled the tabernacle.
And whenever the cloud went up from over the tabernacle,
the children of Israel went onward,
throughout all their journeys.
But if the cloud went not up,
then they journeyed not,
until the day that it went up.
For the cloud of I Am
was upon the tabernacle by day,
and there was fire therein by night,
in the sight of all the house of Israel,
throughout all their journeys.
The prophet Elijah slaughtered a bull, offering sacrifice, high on mount Carmel. I Am came down in a fire, then cloud: the fire consumed, while the cloud brought new life.
Then the fire of I Am fell,
and consumed the holocaust,
and the wood, and the stones, and the dust,
and licked up the water that was in the trench…
the heavens grew dark with clouds, and wind,
and there fell a great rain.
Solomon sacrificed thousands of offerings; I Am came down in a fire and cloud. All of these sacrifices down through the ages, spoke of the Lamb who would die once for all.
The Father in Heaven hands over his Son, his Only-Begotten, the one whom he loves, to die for our sins like a lamb on the altar, healing the wound made by Adam of old.
After the sacrifice, down comes the fire; down comes the wind and the cloud and the glory. The Spirit of life is blown back in the nostrils: at last, Adam’s children are now living souls.
And when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all with one accord at the same place,
and there came suddenly out of heaven a sound
as of a bearing violent breath,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting,
and there appeared to them divided tongues,
as it were of fire;
which rested upon each one of them,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and began to speak with other tongues,
according as the Spirit was giving them to declare.
A sigh of relief from the Father and Son, the holy redemption is wholly complete. Death has been conquered by Jesus’ dying; now life is restored by the Spirit within.
The mission of Jesus is fully accomplished by sending the Spirit to dwell in our hearts. It was, so the Spirit could come, that he suffered. It was, so that we could be born, that he died.
That which was done wrong, has seen its undoing: the failings of Adam, by Christ are made good. Where Eve failed to help, now the Spirit is helping: Helper and Advocate, for evermore.
Come Holy Spirit, let us be born of you!
Make us your children; come nest in our soul.
Dwell in our temple, we promise our faithfulness.
Seal us forever, to make us your own.
Day 50, Pentecost:
Wisdom, New Eve
It is not good for man to be alone;
let us make him a help, the complement.
A festive procession proceeds through the darkness; lanterns and torches bob round, to and fro. The groomsmen and bridesmaids escort a young bride from the house of her father to come to the wedding feast.
They sing as they go, making merry with dancing; with giddy excitement they draw near the door. The tongues of flame dance with the bride’s every footstep; she makes her grand entrance surrounded by fire.
In the house of the feast, lambs and bulls have been slaughtered; they give up their lives so the feast can take place. The banquet is ready, the door has been opened. The bride is awaited. She enters with fire.
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which came to rest upon each of them.
Our Lord gave his life so the Spirit could come down, surrounded by fire, and enter the Church. The mystical body of Christ, the new Adam, received a new helper: the Spirit, like Eve.
As God said, “Not good, that the man be so lonesome,” so likewise our Lord says, “You shall not be orphans.” As God said, “A help, we shall make for the lone man,” so likewise our Lord says, “The Helper, I send.”
As once Adam laid on his side, deeply sleeping, now Christ falls asleep by his death on the cross. As Adam was pierced so that Eve could come forward, Christ’s side is torn open to pour forth the Spirit.
Once, God said to Adam and Eve, “You must multiply.” Now, Jesus says “Teach all nations, and baptize.” As Eve became mother of all of the living, the baptized in Christ are all born of the Spirit.
As Jesus is called the “new Adam” who saves us, the Spirit is like the new Eve who assists. What Adam did wrong, Christ made right by his dying. What Eve failed to do, now the Spirit is doing.
As Eve was a helper to aid and guide Adam, the Spirit is advocate, helper, and guide. As Eve should have helped Adam rule all creation, now Wisdom is helping to rule in the Church.
The formation of Eve, coming forth from her Adam, is like the procession of Wisdom from God. The giving of Eve to her soulmate, her Adam, is like the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost.
On Sinai, God stood as a groom for his people, and drew up the contract which bound them for life. On Pentecost, Wisdom the bride makes her entrance, always to dwell in Christ’s Body, her house.
For, “Christ is the head of the body, the Church,” and thus “You are the body of Christ, each a member.” We stand as the body of Christ, the new Adam. We long for our Help: send to us the new Eve.
The Spirit is gift: gift that is given, even given in marriage.
The Father gave over his Son for our ransom; he sent him to die for our sins on the cross. His Only-begotten, his Son, his beloved, he sacrificed freely to pay for our debt.
The Father gives Wisdom, his unbegot “daughter,” to help and console us, as bride of our soul. She enters the temple in each living person, to dwell there forever and make him her home.
Betrothed like a virgin: so Wisdom is promised. She comes from the Father who promised to give her. The last words of Christ in the Gospel of Luke, are the promise of Wisdom, our helper for life.
I am sending the promise of my Father upon you,
whereas you, wait in the city of Jerusalem
until you be clothed with power from on high.’
The guests of the wedding feast put on new garments: a gift from the host of the feast, to his glory. Wisdom herself is the garment God gives us. She wraps us within her; we live in the Spirit.
The Spirit is coming; the party awaits her. The flickering flames say the Bride is approaching. The new Eve is given to meet her new Adam, and dwell in the Body of Christ: two as one.
The Lamb has been slain; now the banquet is ready. The Father has readied the meat and the wine. The Father now gives away her whom he treasures; the Father gives over his Dove to mankind.
He gives them his blessing, “Be one, never parted. Be fruitful, make all of the nations your sons.” He looks at us sternly, adjuring us firmly: “Do not grieve the Spirit. Now your heart is her home.”
Sophia, Who Is
Baptize all nations in the Name
of the Father,
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.
There is one Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The three who are one bear a name all their own. “I Am, who is,” is the name they acknowledge. “I Am” is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
Moses asked God,
‘When I come to the children of Israel,
and shall say to them:
The God of your fathers has sent me to you;
and they shall ask me:
What is his name?
what shall I say to them?’
And God said to Moses:
‘I am Who Is’;
and he continued:
‘Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
I Am has sent me to you.’
And God said again to Moses:
‘Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
I Am, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.
This is my name for ever,
this is my memory for all generations.’
“I Am,” says the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. And each, in their own voice, reveals who they are.
The Father says:
I am the maker of heaven and earth.
The Son says:
I am the way and the truth and the life.
I am the first and the last; he who lives.
I died, but behold, I am living forever.
The Spirit of Wisdom says:
I am by His side, whom he brought up;
I am a delight.
I am the mother,
I am a wall.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
I am dark and beautiful.
The Father, the Son, and the Spirit of Wisdom are always together, united as one. Equal in nature and honor and glory, each is a person uniquely their own.
The Son, called the Word, and the Spirit, called Wisdom, give glory to God who is Father of all. And all of their hosts, all the seraphs and cherubim, likewise give glory. Irenaeus explains:
Now this God is glorified by his Word
who is his Son continually,
and by the Holy Spirit
who is the Wisdom of the Father of all:
and the host of these, of the Word and Wisdom,
which are called cherubim and seraphim,
with unceasing voices glorify God;
and every created thing that is in the heavens
offers glory to God the Father of all.
Wisdom (or if we call her in Greek, “Sophia”) is the Holy Spirit.
She is I Am, with the Father and the Son.
She is who she is.
Who is Sophia?
Sophia, Who Is.
Wisdom, Eternal Mystery
The first man never finished comprehending Wisdom,
nor will the last completely fathom her.
For deeper than the sea are her thoughts,
and her counsels, than the great abyss.
In every father
we see something of the Father in heaven.
In every young boy
we see something of the Son.
In every little girl
we see something of Wisdom,
playfully playing her part in creation.
In every young girl
we see Wisdom in love, casting her love to man. Will he love her back?
In every mother
we see Wisdom hovering over her children with love.
At every birth
we see Wisdom giving new life to souls.
In every church
we find Wisdom’s womb: the baptismal font.
In every dancing flame on the altar
we see her fire, the light in her eyes.
In every cloud of incense: the scent of her presence.
In every oil of anointing: her touch.
Hers are the arms of the cross, holding Jesus.
Hers is the water, that washes all sin.
Hers is the breath, that forgives what was wrong.
Hers is the dewfall, that brings down the manna.
Hers is the oil, confirming the soul.
Hers is the love, between man and woman.
Hers is the sign, which makes alter Christus.
Hers is the ointment, that heals in the end…
* * *
Like all the great builders, Solomon carved his name on the temple he had built: “Solomon Jedidiah,” which means, “Man of Peace, Beloved of I AM.”
Wisdom was fond of it.
“His banner over me is love.”
She enjoyed the garden temple he had made for her, with its carvings of palm trees and flowers, cherubim and pomegranates, more than any earthly garden.
Solomon had a real garden in Ba′al-ha′mon, the finest there was. Those who collected the fruit paid him 1000 pieces of silver for its produce.
Wisdom liked her garden temple even more. In appreciation to Solomon for his job well done, she offers him the price of the finest garden, 1000 pieces of silver, plus she raises the ante an additional 200, showing her pleasure with the keepers who tend it.
“Here is the 1000 for you, O Solomon,
plus 200 for the keepers.”
Solomon fell away as time went on, allowing his foreign wives to build temples for their gods throughout Jerusalem.
And Solomon did that which was evil in the sight of I Am,
and went not fully after I Am, as had David his father.
I Am cursed his kingdom, and when Solomon died, ten of the tribes turned away from his son, leaving just two tribes in the south as his legacy.
But Wisdom never gave up on Solomon. She remembered the love of his youth, and the house that they made together. She remembered his labors, how he tried to judge justly; she remembered his prayer, how he first asked to win her, and tradition holds that he turned to her once more, as he died, and she captured his soul.
The Catholic and Orthodox churches of the East venerate Saint Solomon, “Righteous Prophet and King” on the feast of the Holy Forefathers of Christ, two weeks before Christmas.
Wisdom never gave up on him.
She never gives up on anyone.
“If you see my beloved, tell him,
I am lovesick.”