Sharing in God’s love will put us on the right track

  • May 12, 2016

Trinity Sunday (Year C) May 22 (Proverbs 8:23-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15)

How does one describe something that is infinite and ineffable in terms that humans can understand? The writers of the Scriptures often used poetry and metaphor, but even these attempts fell short of the majesty of God. No concept, doctrine or metaphor can ever contain the divine reality — they merely point to it and present it to us in the broadest strokes.

The authors of Scripture were not at all nervous about engaging the sacred imagination in their quest to reveal God to others. The author of this proverb was influenced by the prevailing Greek thought of his time, so God’s creative activity was expressed with the notion of heavenly mediators or companions. The figure in Prov 8 speaking in the first person is Lady Wisdom, and she is depicted as a divine artisan assisting God in the process of creation. In chapter 38 of Job, God asked Job some very pointed questions from the whirlwind. One by one, God described all of His actions in creating the world, and after each one, He asked Job, “Were you there?” Job, of course, was not, so God silenced His questioning. Wisdom was there — although she was not God, she was always at God’s side and “in the know.”

Even though we have a much more nuanced and scientific view of creation and the cosmos today, we can still glorify God in creation. By whatever process our world came to be, God is the ultimate source of all.

Wisdom shared God’s delight in the created order and the human race. This same delight was also reflected in the lives of mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi. It is a key element in the spirituality of the recent papal encyclical Laudato Si’. Rather than exploiting and polluting the Earth or depleting its resources, we are urged to treat it with the reverence, delight and awe that we find in the biblical wisdom tradition. If God and Lady Wisdom delight in the children of Adam, how can we do any less?

Elsewhere we are told that Wisdom enters into those who are humble, simple and open — we too can experience the joy and delight of seeing creation through God’s eyes.

Suffering has always been a mystery and it probably always will be. We don’t know why innocent people suffer, and any attempt to “explain” suffering is rather hollow and inadequate. But Paul has a solution — it doesn’t matter why “stuff happens” but what we do when it does.

If we meet suffering head on with the right attitude — with courage, dignity and faith — it can produce endurance, character and hope. It becomes the catalyst for our spiritual transformation. We will know we are on the right track when we experience the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

What would it be like to take part in the conversation of the Trinity? Many people long to know the truth, the whole truth, about practically everything. Could we handle it? Jesus did not think so. In chapter 15 of John’s Gospel, believers were invited to be divine friends — to be “in the loop” and on personal terms with Jesus and the Father. Then Jesus promised them the gift of the Spirit of truth. Even though Jesus was going to be physically absent, He would continue to teach, transform and enlighten those who were His disciples. He made a shocking promise: all that Jesus had received from the Father would be declared personally to those that followed His path. This was not book knowledge or worldly wisdom, but the ways of God and how it is manifested in our world and our lives. Since they were unable to bear the whole truth then, it would be revealed over time as the need arose and as they reached a proper level of spiritual maturity.

The same applies to us. There is a great difference between longing for the truth of God for its own sake and mere curiosity or the desire to know more than others. The catch: one has to abide in Jesus continually and live the commandment of love. Perhaps that is why Christians have not often taken the Lord up on this generous offer. The truth in its fullest sense is both a personal commitment and a way of life.