The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
June 16, 2019 – The Most Holy Trinity - John 16:12-15
While it is surely a challenge for us to attempt to understand God as a Trinity, there are some wonderful matters worthy of our thought as we try to grasp this, perhaps the most profound of the truths of our Christian faith. In fact, as soon as we think we fully understand God we are surely wrong. Still, let’s float a few ideas which, while not “the last word,” they can serve as a few first words of partial understanding.
Let’s begin with the thought that there is diversity yet unity within God. And in that diversity, there is total agreement, complicity and cooperation. An early heresy in the church claimed that there were two gods, a harsh and fearful god of the Old Testament and a loving God of the New Testament. This erroneous belief about God might have contributed to the spread of anti-Semitism, even among Christians. In response to this error, while there are certainly a variety of descriptions of the divine scattered through Holy Scripture, there is no foundation to believe that they describe the actions of two different deities. God is One.
Further, there are many references in the New Testament to there being total agreement or oneness between Christ and Abba, the Father, as well as God’s Spirit, who is given more attention after the Ascension of Christ. We sense this oneness of God in the gospel reading for today. To use a human image, God’s Kingdom is ruled by committee, but there is no need for there to be debate or “voting” within God. God’s ways with us are consistently loving and always merciful, a major theme of Pope Francis.
In fact, it is more accurate to think of God’s life as loving that anything else. The best (and most accurate) description of God is love! God has always been loving (even before creation) and will continue to love forever. God’s love is between the three persons in God. St. Augustine put it this way: One person in God loves, another is the beloved and the third is the love between them. There is, however, no first, second and third in this loving existence within God. It’s all happening simultaneously – and it has always been that way. I know, that’s hard to imagine but certainly worth thinking about.
Finally, from that divine eternal loving, you and I came into being. God loved and we exist! Why do we exist? Perhaps one way to respond would be to say that God wants to share life with others. That’s what “loving” means. Not just human life but, as the church teaches, participation in God’s life. A good prayer for this Sunday: Thank you God for sharing your love and creating us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD