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God's Word on Sunday: Being right before God flows from faith

  • June 5, 2022

Most Holy Trinity (Year C) June 12 (Proverbs 8:22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15) 

God is described in countless ways in the Scriptures, confirming that God cannot be contained by any one image or symbol. The ancient sources do not use the theological precision that modern people are used to and can at times appear to be inconsistent or contradictory. This can be confusing to some. The God-language of Scripture inspires the sacred imagination of the reader or hearer, revealing the depths and activities of the divine.

We know that God’s primary modes of self-revelation are creator, redeemer and sanctifier. Although there are three distinct persons in the Trinity, each one shares in all of these activities. In the passage from Proverbs, the Wisdom of God — Lady Wisdom — speaks in the first person, revealing that she has always been at God’s side, even before creation. Wisdom took part in creation at every step, acting as an artisan or master worker and beloved companion of God. The theology of the wisdom tradition views creation and humanity in very positive terms. In this passage, Wisdom delights not only in the created world, but in all the children of Adam.

Wisdom was often associated with Jesus in the New Testament (Luke 7:35) and He is called the wisdom and power of God in 1 Corinthians 1:24. In the first few verses of the Gospel of John, the Logos (Christ) is described in similar terms — as the architect of creation and constant companion of God. Wisdom/Jesus originates in and mirrors perfectly God the Father and is also imprinted in all of creation. For the New Testament writers, Wisdom is holy and is a gift from above, and is not to be confused with human forms of “wisdom.”

The Wisdom of God is the inspiration and presence of Christ and is usually at odds with worldly wisdom and values. To follow the way of divine Wisdom is to travel the road to enlightenment and salvation.  

Romans teaches us that true peace and being right before God flow from living in faith. Faith is understood as trust and abandonment to the guiding grace of God that is given through Jesus. But God is not finished with us, for creation is a continuing process. It is through the suffering, struggles and hard knocks of life that we are restored more and more to the image and likeness of God. We learn patience and endurance, and our character is molded and shaped. It is not something that we can accomplish alone or from our own powers. We have the courage and strength to persevere because the Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts to transform and renew our souls and to enkindle hope. 

It would be wonderful to have an open channel to God and a constant spiritual guide and teacher by our side. Jesus left His disciples with good news: it is certainly possible. Possible, that is, for those willing to abide and dwell constantly in Jesus and to live in the Spirit. Jesus is not finished teaching us — He has barely begun. Jesus promised that He would send an Advocate and Spirit of truth to dwell in the hearts of His followers and in the community. The Spirit would guide them into all the truth, even the truth that they could not yet bear. This Spirit of truth is His continual and personal presence. The Spirit can only enter hearts and minds that are open and prepared to receive it.

Jesus insisted that He was sharing with His followers all that the Father had revealed to Him. This was part of the promise He made to them in chapter 15 of John when He invited them into a relationship of friendship rather than servanthood.

We agonize and fight among ourselves over religious, spiritual and life questions — and arrive at many conflicting conclusions. It might be more fruitful to quiet the mind and enter the temple of the heart where the Spirit of the Lord resides — and listen. The guidance we receive might be surprising and discomfiting, for the truth that Jesus grants is not necessarily a confirmation of our own opinions and beliefs. We can be taught as much or as little by God as we choose.

Can we handle the truth?