(Note: The author also has written previously on usedview.com about the so-called Athanasian Creed, an ancient Catholic summary of Christian belief in the Holy Trinity. For those posts, please click on the following link: usedview.com/article/the-mystery-christians-confess-on-trinit…. The text of the creed itself may be found at: usedview.com/catholic-in-omaha/the-athanasian-creed.)
Opening reflection (taken from Magnificat magazine, www.magnificat.com): The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “by sending His only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed His innermost secret: God Himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He has destined us to share in that exchange” (CCC, No. 221). “The complete Trinity dwells in us” (R.P. Philippon). By worshiping the Trinity we realize the full truth of ourselves. “In the communion of grace with the Trinity, man’s ‘living area’ is broadened and raised up to the supernatural level of divine life. Man lives in God and by God” (Blessed John Paul II).
(This weekend’s Scripture readings are available in the New American Bible translation at the Vatican’s English website at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM.)
First Reading: Proverbs 8:22-31 (Revised Standard Version)
A reading from the book of Proverbs.
Thus says the wisdom of God:
“The LORD created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth;
before he had made the earth with its fields,
or the first of the dust of the world.
“When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the sons of men.”
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Meditation: It has long been said in the Church that the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. The Hebrew Scriptures – that is, the Old Testament – could not be clearer that “the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Can we find the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity concealed in the Old Testament?
This passage provides some of that evidence. Think about St. John’s description of “the Word” – Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity – in John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Solomon’s description of the “Wisdom of God” agrees well with what John would say a millennium later; in fact, it provides such extensive detail that the reader cannot help but understand that it was through the Wisdom of God that God created the heavens and the earth.
How is God’s wisdom communicated to humanity? Through His creation, through His actions – and through His words. So God used King Solomon, who asked God for wisdom to rule Israel (1 Kings 3:5-14), to offer insight into the Son of God, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) when the Father, the First Person of the Trinity, spoke His final Word. Combine this with the evidence of the Holy Spirit already in Genesis 1:2 (“the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”) and famously in Psalm 51:11 (“… take not Thy Holy Spirit from me”), not to mention the unusual pronouns at work in Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; … So God created man in his own image …”
All three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are present and at work in the Old Testament, though it takes the eyes and ears of faith to perceive this reality. It would be on the banks of the Jordan, when all three Persons were manifested at one time at the baptism of Jesus, that this most important aspect of the Old Testament was truly revealed in the New.
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-5
A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Romans.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Meditation: Even with the evidence noted in connection with the first reading, however, it’s fair to say that the Old Testament’s image of God is dominated by the Father. So Paul does his part here to help his Roman Christian readers better perceive and understand the totality and the united divinity of the Trinity.
To follow Christ, the Second Person, is to be at peace with God, since Jesus is true God and true man. But the immediate context of the first sentence emphasizes that we thus are also at peace with the Father, the First Person. And then we see how it is that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” It happens when the Holy Spirit, the Third Person, enters us and dwells within us through the “means of grace,” the Word and the sacraments. He “proceeds from the Father and the Son” (Nicene Creed); in fact, He has been described as the love that eternally passes between the First and Second Persons. And what does St. John tell us in his first letter? “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
So it is that we who believe and are baptized come to share in the divine nature! Only in this way can we hope to love, to endure suffering and to walk with our Lord until the end.
Gospel: John 16:12-15
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John. Glory to You, O Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Meditation: Finally, this weekend’s readings take us once more to Jesus’ Upper Room discourse to His disciples before His Passion begins in earnest. The Second Person testifies to the oneness of the Trinity in saying that the Third Person “will take what is Mine and declare it to you” and adding that He, Jesus, possesses “all that the Father has.” When the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples, He truly will have proceeded from both the Father and the Son even as He guides us “into all the truth.”
We cannot fully perceive the mystery of the Trinity. The Athanasian Creed (referred to in the link at the start of this meditation) attempts to explain it as fully as our limited human understanding can do. But when we are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” we come to share in the nature of Him who is three and yet one. Let us celebrate this reality today.
Close with individual prayer, followed by Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be