Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Reflection on Trinity Sunday

I'm on vacation until next Saturday, so my blogging
may be a little more irregular, but  last Sunday's reading for solemnity of the Trinity were so phenomenal, that I simply can not skip on blogging. Unfortunately, we're now Wednesday - may 29th- so I'm a little behind, and I've missed out on some lovely passages, and some even lovelier homilies from Pope Francis (I've been calling him Benedict a lot in my head, I have to watch myself!!)...nevertheless, let's deal with those wonderful passages!


 All of last week, we heard from Sirach about the challenges of our faith, but were also reminded time and time again that we are never to face these challenges alone. In Sirach, it's Wisdom that is mentioned as being our companion for the road. The role of Wisdom in these books is to remind us that even God does not work alone. When God set forth creation, Wisdom was there from the beginning in all God created and remained close to that creation from that day forth.

This idea of Wisdom collaborating with God is the theme in our first reading  from the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is never named in this passage, but She is in the first verses of this particular chapter. But who or what is Wisdom in this case? Seeing that these were readings for Trinity Sunday, most Christians may be tempted to come out and say it:

 Wisdom= Holy Spirit.

It's a wonderful notion. To believe that the Spirit was with us from the beginning. That the spirit was an expression of God's love for creation. That indeed,  when we read about God's love being poured out into us (Romans 5:5) this really is a metaphor for the Spirit entering into the human experience from the start. And this image makes sense... up to a point. It makes sense that God would have intended to create us with the  'Spirit of Wisdom and love" within us.It makes sense to believe that this Spirit became a link that kept us close to God all these years. That link is what has made us favorite children of God, which we obviously couldn't achieve by our own merit. The spirit in us is how we are validated in the eyes of God. It opens the door to faith, and sustains us along the journey. Wonderful idea.

 But before we speak more of that validation, let's deal with a minor glitch in our idea that The Holy Spirit has been placed in us from the beginning: What happens at Pentecost? As we all know, the disciples, gathered in a room, receive the power of the Holy Spirit within as they set out into....wwwaaaaait a minute here....They receive it? There and then? So they DIDN'T have it before then? It would appear to be the case. This gets messy. That's why it makes more sense for us to believe that Holy Spirit -or what the Old Testament writers call Wisdom- was part of creation, laboring with God to establish creation, loving humanity...outside of the human experience, and yet able to be in communion  with humans, or to help God speak with them until the Pentecost, when we were linked to that spirit for ever. In the end it's all conjecturing. We can never truly know how the spirit interacted with humanity in the past, what it's role was in our lives before Pentecost. But after that holy day, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind what the role of the Spirit has been.  Through it, we come to a stage of validation and justification.

 Last Sunday's 2nd reading  (Romans 5:1-5) -or third reading after the Psalm, but those of you go to Mass  regularly will know that the Sunday reading after the Psalm is considered the 2nd reading!- is one of the most intense readings I've ever encountered in the Bible. I spent a good amount of time trying to 'map out' what was being said by St Paul here, and I'm still not sure I'm necessarily doing it justice, but I need to try to anyway, because this passage expresses beautifully our complicated relationship to the Trinity, reflecting on the ways in which God touches our lives. In order to do a proper exegesis of the passage, I feel like I need to use  concrete examples in my effort to answer the question,how and why are we justified in the eyes of God?

Paul begins by saying " since we are justified by faith,  we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus'.

  The first question we may have is: " how can anyone say that they are justified in the eyes of God by faith alone? Does not James say " faith if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (Ja 2:17) "  He does indeed. But actions without faith are nothing more than  good deeds, which are nothing to be sneezed at, but on their own, they remain nothing more than that. In the light of faith, they become so much more. They become a way of life. But that way of life isn't so easily chosen. We have been given the freedom to say 'I believe in God' or 'I Don't.' For anyone who takes the leap of faith and opens their hearts to God's work in the universe when so many around us are turning to Science or are simply not caring about the deep questions that mark our journey as human beings,perhaps they are justified merely by making that leap. But even that leap isn't always enough.

  For it's not only by proclaiming our faith that we necessarily are open to Grace. Such an act can  make people nominal Christians, and that's a good first step, but it's only the beginning. Grace, we get by openly standing before the Father, and seeing in others, and in ourselves, the presence of The Son. "Through Jesus, we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand." Translation: The grace is already there for us to receive, but we, in our business often zip by it, unintentionally blind to it. But when through faith, we become aware of God  working in us, and of Christ dwelling in and around us, grace can do nothing else than be abundant in our lives. What a wonderful sensation of peace and joy we get when that occurs. And we should cherish those moments, but not hold on to them. For even those grace filled moments are not the complete fulfillment of a Christians's mission.
 In fact, those moments of grace are meant to give us the strength to face our moments of suffering and to develop our character even further, so that can come to understand the true meaning of  hope in our lives, in the presence of the Spirit that carries God's love, wisdom and strength into our the fullness of our lives.
There you have it. I'm not even sure I made sense of the whole passage, but it's quite potent as you can tell!

Happy reading!

Proverbs 8: 22 - 31

22The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.
23Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth;
26before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
27When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep,
29when 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,
30then I was beside him, like a master workman; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the sons of men.

Psalms 8: 4 - 9

4what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?5Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.6Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet,7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.9O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth! ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Romans 5: 1 - 5

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5and 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.
John 16: 12 - 15

12"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13When 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.
14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

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