by Father Mike Stubbs
We Americans have earned a reputation in the world for our ability to get things done. Italians excel in the fine arts. French cuisine is known throughout the world. Germans dominate the classical music scene.
But we Americans are very practical. It is no accident that the only philosophical system of thought to originate in this country is pragmatism, developed by William James. It cor- relates to our distinctive talent for organizing, for getting things done on a large scale.
The figure of Wisdom which appears in Sunday’s first reading, Prv 8:22-31, fits in well with this stress upon getting things done. Personified as a woman, Wisdom speaks to us. She tells us of her origins: “From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.”
According to this narrative, Wisdom was present when the universe was created: “When the Lord established the heavens I was there.”
But Wisdom was not present as a passive bystander: “Then was I beside him as his craftsman.” Wisdom plays a role in creation, in assisting God in some way, although no specifics are given in this passage.
That is significant. It would be possible to think of wisdom as seeking after knowledge in order to satisfy one’s curiosity, to have a theoretical understanding without any practical applications.
But that is not the way Wisdom appears here. Rather, in the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom is an artisan. She gets things done. She is not content to just think and reflect about the state of the world. She takes an active part in the workings of the world.
We will hear this reading in a few days because it is Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the three per- sons in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The personification of Wisdom in our reading as a person existing with God before the creation of the universe anticipates our understanding of the Son of God as a person existing with God the Father before the creation of the universe. The reading gives us a preview of Jesus before he was born.
We usually think of God the Father in terms of creation. That is what we affirm in the Nicene Creed when we proclaim: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” At the same time, God the Father was not alone in the creation of the universe. God the Son shared in that work. That is why we also affirm: “Through him all things were made.”
The Son of God shared in the work of creation. But he did not stop there. Once he was born of the Virgin Mary, he continued to accomplish the will of the Father. He took part in the work of our salvation. That is the new creation. He believes in getting things done. And thank God for that.