Strength and gentleness

From favourite teachers to fake news, we reflect on the first Advent ‘O’ Antiphon for 17th December

“O Wisdom of the Most High, ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth”

When I think back to school days and who my favourite teachers were, I suppose, for me, there were three kinds of teachers. 

Those who taught by intimidation and whose classes were ruled with fear! The other extreme were those softer individuals perhaps who had little or no control over their class and where little teaching actually took place.  In between were, for me, the best teachers: those who were friendly, affable and who generated enthusiasm for their subject but would also take no nonsense.  We knew the line we couldn’t cross.  To use perhaps the parlance of the first ‘O Antiphon’ they taught with ‘strength and gentleness.’

St Paul says that Jesus is ‘the Wisdom of God.’  We know that Jesus was a Rabbi, a teacher, and he drew to him those who listened to his teaching, particularly the Twelve whom he took aside for special instruction.  It was to them that Jesus proclaimed himself to be ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’

The first ‘O Antiphon’ of December bids Jesus come close so that he may teach us in the way of truth.  It was through him and for him that all was created, and in the poetic words of Genesis, we see order being created out of chaos.

There is much chaos in the world today, and the phrase ‘fake news’ brings further chaos, with conspiracy theories driving people apart.  There is  a worrying polarity emerging.  Often, we are driven apart by ignorance of one another, and into this void are poured false rumours and misleading platitudes, fuelling the fire of cynicism and hate.

As Advent takes us closer to our celebration of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, we pray that he may guide us into the way of truth, with strength and gentleness,  bringing order to our chaotic world, inspiring us to seek peace, justice and reconciliation, and drawing closer to each other in love.

“O Wisdom of the Most High, ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth”

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