Here is a timely, gentler reflection from Fr Eugene Stockton inviting us to contemplate the feminine side of the Divine, Lady Sophia, or Lady Wisdom. She is mentioned often in the books of the Old Testament. In this reflection, Fr Eugene gathers in one place the many ways in which the ancient writers described her presence in the story of our creation, and the story of our hopes and aspirations. These are words to sit with quietly and draw into you innermost spirit. ...Brian Coyne, editor
The Song of Sophia
by Fr Eugene Stockton
Who is this playful companion of God in the work of creation, the one who was at the same time the self-expression of the Creator and the masterplan of this creation [Prov. 8:22-31].
Lady Wisdom now invites us to her banquet, where she is our food and drink [Prov. 9:1-6]. Who is this woman who makes her appearance in the Old Testament books of Job, Proverbs, Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon? In biblical commentaries there is scholarly discussion whether Wisdom is divine or created, distinct from God or an emanation, a person or poetic personification, identifiable or not with the Spirit of God. With the Wisdom passages spread out over several books and several hundred years, consistency in detail is not to be expected. Always closely identified with God, she is variously described as the image of God, the voice of God, the divine revelation, the divine summons, the breath of God. She was present with God at the very beginning of creation and played an active role in creation, continuing to be immanent in the ongoing creation. She takes active interest and delight in human affairs, guiding and teaching her children. She invites them to partake of her.
In Proverbs Wisdom addresses humankind as a prophetic word of God, issuing a challenge and imparting the priceless treasure of herself to those in whom 'the fear (i.e. awe and wonder) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'. For Sirach, Wisdom comes forth from the mouth of God (as a word), existing from all ages and for all ages, ranging throughout the whole of creation, but she finds a special dwelling place in Israel, for whom she is her Torah (the Law).
A climax comes in the Wisdom of Solomon, written by a learned Hellenistic Jew, probably a near contemporary of Philo Judaeus, a fellow Alexandrian. More daringly than before she is related radically to God: breath of God’s power, emanation of God’s glory. God's image [7:23- 6] sharing life with God [8:3]. She is God’s presence to the Universe in continuing creation, Mother of all good things, fashioner of all, renewer of all, saviour of Israel [7:10]. Ranging from end to end of the earth, she orders all things well [8:1]. In her is a spirit of all that is good and she penetrates all worthy spirits [7:22-24]. Wisdom, in this climatic revelation, has been summed up as "the Divine Mind immanent within the universe and guiding and controlling all its dynamic operations … (she is) synonymous with Divine Providence". Embedded in this hymn of praise is an account of the love affair of Solomon with Wisdom [7-9], which seems to describe in an intensely personal way the author’s own mystical encounter with her.
The Song of Sophia (Wisdom)
Prov. 8:22-31 in new JB
The Lord created me, first-fruits of his fashioning,
Eugene Stockton, originally published in "Wonder: A Way to God" (1998).
"In barely more than a hundred pages, Eugene Stockton – priest, writer, archaeologist, anthropologist, contemplative – launches his readers into 'the deep within'. His range of reference is astonishing, explained only by the interests that have filled his fifty years of thinking and writing, and then further back to his childhood in the bush of the Central Blue Mountains. From the depths of his own awareness, he invites us all into the depths of "the Kingdom of God within you', of the real self of connections and relationships, too often neglected and ignored by the restless ego of routine life. Guiding the descent into the depths of the true self are a wide variety of religious, philosophical and psychological markers, 'since it is difficult to describe on the surface what is shared in depth'. One constant resource and guide is the Aboriginal experience and Eugene Stockton's long familiarity with the spirituality of the original Australians. In short, there is something both homegrown Australian and genuinely universal about this book. The depths into which this author calls us will be a wondrous refreshment for all his readers." ...Professor Anthony Kelly, Australian Catholic University