GLORY BE TO THE FATHER AND TO THE SON AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
(A biblical reflection on THE HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY, 22 May 2016)
Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15
First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalms: Psalm 8:4-9; Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5
The Scripture Text
“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15 RSV)
When the dogma of the Trinity finds its way into discussions (conducted by theologians, dreaded by preachers, confusing to many of us), talk of Greek philosophy is not far behind. Usually there is discussion about the Greek understanding of nature and person, which is contrasted with our modern understanding of such terms. In the end we find ourselves knowing more about the dogma of the Trinity, but not so much about the meaning of the Trinity for our daily Christian lives.
The dogma of the Trinity is a mystery which will never be fully understood by us as “clear and distinct” ideas. To believe otherwise is to fall victim to the temptation of intellectual idolatry. This is no way means that we simply repeat past statements about the Trinity in an uncritical or uncaring way. We need to bring relevant modern insights to bear on our faith which always seeks understanding. However, perhaps we should focus our attention more on the experiential aspects of the Trinity. Such an approach would be more faithful to the witness of the Bible and our own spirit of modern philosophy.
Philosophically speaking, truth and the values of ideas are determined by action and consequences. When we hold something to be true (we believe something), this means we are willing to act on the belief. Thus we want to ask the following: What real difference does it make to profess that God is Father, Son and Spirit?
Our three readings from the Bible highlight three aspects of God which correspond to three differences in the way we live.
The book of Proverbs highlights the loving creativity of God. From the chaos of “the primal soup” God brings order and “found delight in the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:31) God’s creative love is an invitation for us to be creative and loving in our daily lives. Too often we feel trapped in relationships and jobs (vocations) because we do not “work at creative love.” In the words of Thomas Edison: genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. We fall into ruts and patterns which kill the spirit and remove the joy from our daily labors. To believe that God is a loving creator means that we also are to love and be creative in our daily lives.
Our reading from Romans presents the reconciling work of Jesus Christ. We are now at peace with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We now can have the courage to face our limitations and accept our acceptance. We no longer have to wear masks of perfection. We open ourselves to God as we are. In so doing, we can “rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God” (Romans 5:2). To really believe that Jesus did this for us means that we act so as to give evidence that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). We turn to God for healing. We are able to comfort and support one another in affliction. We are able to endure and help others to remain faithful.
We also proclaim that God is Spirit. John’s Gospel indicates that Jesus will send the Spirit of truth. The work of the Spirit is to announce the truth received from the Father. This truth concerns who Jesus is – the One sent by the Father to reveal His name as love. Again, if we believe that God is the Spirit of truth, we live in such a way that we give evidence to the truth that God is love and Jesus is the Word made flesh. We love one another in ways that are life-giving and Spirit filled. We don’t try to manipulate or control others. We welcome people with fraternal love.
The dogma of the Trinity is more than mere words or ideas. The Trinity, if really believed, makes a real difference in the way we live. One thing is certain: it is easier to play with words and ideas. We don’t have to change or walk-our-dogmas. However, to really believe that God is Father, Son and Spirit means we must love creatively, live at peace through the cross of Christ, and witness to the truth. Not easy – but never boring.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You revealed the great mystery of Your godhead to men when You sent into the world the Word who is Truth and the Spirit who makes us holy as witnesses to the Truth. Help us to believe in You and worship You, as the true faith teaches; three Persons, eternal in glory, one God, infinite in majesty. We make our prayer in the most holy name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 20 May 2016
A Christian Pilgrim