Monday, July 25, 2011

Sophia's World

The figure of Wisdom (Sophia) attains central significance [in the late Old Testament]… ‘Wisdom’ appears as the mediatrix of creation and salvation history, as God’s first creature in whom both the pure, primordial form of his creative will and the pure answer,  which he discovers, find their expression… creation answers, and the answer is as close to God as a playmate, as a lover… ‘Sophia’, a feminine noun, stands on that side of reality which is represented by the woman, by what is purely and simply feminine. It signifies the answer which emerges from the divine call and election. It expresses precisely this: that there is a pure answer, and that God’s love finds its irrevocable dwelling place within it.
Reflection – Before I jump into reflecting on this passage, I want to give my most enthusiastic plug for this little book by Fr. Joseph Ratzinger. It is one of the most profound and beautiful reflections on the Mother of God I have ever read. It is small (100 pages or so), and hence cheap, and just one of the best things ever. Buy it! Or, rather BUY IT!!!!!!!
Ahem. Sorry – I didn’t mean to shout at y’all. The first part of the book, and I’m sure to be quoting bits and pieces of it all over this blog, is a tracing of the feminine line of the Old Testament. We all know by heart, if we know our bible at all, the masculine line: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and so forth.
But the feminine line (Sarah, Deborah, Hannah, Esther, Judith, etc.) is very important, for reasons that will become clear as I blog about other bits of it. And in this passage, Ratzinger highlights the last movement of this feminine presence in the Hebrew Scriptures: created Wisdom, personified in several places in the Wisdom literature as a woman.
And this Woman, this Sophia, works alongside God in his creative work. Remember, this Sophia is a creature, not God – that is very clear from the Wisdom literature texts. But she accompanies God in his work, and in this participation with God there is joy, delight, intimacy.
A whole theology of creation emerges from this revelation of Sophia. We tend to either think of creation as standing autonomous from God, somehow left to fend for itself, to make its own way, or as being a wholly passive lump of clay being shaped by God without (or even against) its will.
Here we see that creation is made to be in a sort of intimate partnership with God, a marriage, if you will, in which the Uncreated Wisdom, which will be revealed as the Logos of God, incarnate in Jesus, meets the Created Wisdom. Wisdom, for us human beings, becomes not mastery or cleverness, but perfect response to our Father in heaven. And wisdom, far from being ponderous or dry, is joyful, laughing, playing, delighting in Him who made her, happy to give her whole energy to this ‘making’ together with God.
As God’s Uncreated Wisdom is revealed to us in Christ, Sophia, created wisdom, is revealed to us in the face of the one who gave Herself to God’s plan for the world with joy and exaltation of the One who chose Her.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

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