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Dec 17, 2018

‘O Wisdom!’ – First Day of the O Antiphon Series

Thomas Smith

In this post, Thomas Smith reflects upon the O Antiphon “O Wisdom” from the December 17 daily Mass. You can find his other reflections on the O Anthiphons leading up to Christmas here.


(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”!

“O Come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.”


If you read through the Book of Emmanuel (Isaiah 7-12), you know that one of the characteristics of the Messiah, the revived Root of Jesse, is that God’s Spirit would rest upon him in a singular way (Isaiah 11:1-2). This happens at the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13).

According to Isaiah, the Spirit will bring to the Messiah seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Because of God’s great generosity, these seven gifts are not only for Jesus, but for us! While their fullest expression belongs only to Jesus, he shares them with every baptized believer (Catechism 1830-1831). They help us to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They give us the strength and courage to follow in Jesus’s footsteps.

It is to Christ as Wisdom, though, that we want to turn our attention today, as the Antiphon intones. St. Paul agrees: Christ himself has become our Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), and the chief way he shows God’s wisdom is from the Cross, in Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18-30).

What does this have to do with the Nativity? For Franciscans, the Crib and the Cross are inseparable and often shown together in art. This is no accident as they both point to a divine wisdom that appears to be nothing but foolishness to the world. God comes both to the Crib and Cross as a perfect gift of self: a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering. In Bethlehem, Divinity is revealed in humility; on Calvary, Life is found in death. Consider how Mary was witness to this great wisdom in both places, and how it shaped her own continual “yes” to our Father in heaven.


Lord, in this Antiphon we ask you to show us the path of knowledge, and to “teach us in her ways to go.” Give us the courage, this season, and throughout our lives, to model the wisdom, humility and love revealed in both Crib and Cross. Help us daily to make of ourselves a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering to you, and to give ourselves away in love to others.


Take a moment or two to rest in this revelation of God’s eternal wisdom—the love offerings of Jesus in Bethlehem and Calvary. Rest in the immensity of God’s profound love for you.


Tomorrow we will reflect on the next O Antiphon, O Lord. Make sure you return to the Ascension Blog to read the reflection.

You May Also Like:

The O Antiphons Explained: A Daily Series Leading to Christmas

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Rejoice: Advent Meditations with Mary

About Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is the co-author of Wisdom: God’s Vision for Life,  Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website

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  • “O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention.” Proverbs 8:5 “I, wisdom, dwell in prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” Proverbs 8:12
    I looked up the word prudence and I realized it went hand in hand with wisdom. What I think I am realizing what this antiphon says is to open your heart and mind to the Wisdom that God has bestowed upon us as He invites us to share in this wondrous attribute. Whether we accept this astonishing gift is up to each individual.
    Sing praise to the Lord, Our God

  • Can we say that the gifts that the spirit brings to Jesus in His baptism allow the humanity of Him be more aware of His divinity?
    Many thanks

  • Praise God for His Spirit that descended upon us on the day of our baptism we have been blessed with the 7 gifts and we need to use make use of these gifts to fullest. Although I have read this passage before, I am reminded by the Spirit as I write that I need to operate these gifts. O Wisdom come!

  • A priest at our parish is an artist he often paints a picture reflecting on his homily. He gives out copies of these paintings to the people at mass, By recieving these paintings at mass, I have found a whole new way of meditation. There are many sacred paintings online so I have looked up many other paintings to help me with my meditations and my bible study one image that the phrase “Crib and Cross” brought to mind was this one
    This speaks to me more that words

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