May 26, 2013
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Wisdom, personified as a woman, is portrayed as the first of the Lord’s creation before the beginning of the world. While Proverbs emphasized the accessibility of Wisdom (in contrast to Job!) for righteous living, later Jewish writers understood Wisdom as the Torah (see Sirach 24) and as an “emanation of the glory of the Almighty” (Wisdom 7:25). These varying Wisdom traditions were alluded to by New Testament writers in their efforts to make sense of their experiences of Christ’s divinity (John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:15-20; James 3:13-18).
Christians today can find this text’s treatment of Wisdom as evocative of both the Son and the Holy Spirit. It may even invite us to challenge commonly held assumptions about God’s “gender.” For example, it is helpful to some to imagine the Holy Spirit as metaphorically feminine, so as to undercut too-long held notions of God’s masculinity. This is no easy, pat workaround, either; conceiving the Spirit as feminine thus complicates stereotypes of feminine weakness, sensitivity, softness and sentimentality. The Spirit may be at times comforting and peaceful, but She is most certainly also fiery and wildly mighty!
Good poetry, such as today’s psalm, can generate more questions than answers. When it comes to a heady subject like the Trinity, questions can be refreshing.
How is your understanding of the Trinity helpful to your faith? How does Trinitarian doctrine trip you up? Do you find explanations and metaphors of the Trinity tiresome and futile, and prefer instead a fuller embrace of the sheer mystery of God’s inner life?
What can we learn from scripture, tradition, reason and experience about the Trinity?
This psalm reminds us that even with three questions for every one answer, we can still praise our God of mystery with all our might.
Christians find ourselves – in our own spirituality and in joining God’s mission in the world – in the midst of a holy, Trinitarian relationship that is life-giving, forgiving and empowering. Sharing the truth of this relationship with others is the basis of Christian evangelism. There is nowhere that God is not: across time and space, spirit and matter, transcendent and immanent.
How can our conception of such a God not affect every ounce of our being, including our daily lives and character? As we enter into and are sent out by and in the Trinity, we join with the saints and all the faithful in proclaiming: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God of power and might! We pray and so live that we, the church, and the world may come to mirror the loving diversity and unity of God.
For the fourth Sunday in a row, we find ourselves within Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John, overhearing our Savior’s prayer to the Father. We, too, in our daily prayers, join the ongoing conversation of the Three in One – an important reminder that prayer is not an unexpected phone call to a God busy with more urgent tasks, but rather a welcome addition to a loving and joyful divine dialogue.
At different points in our Christian journey we may find ourselves more able to relate to one person more than others: after becoming a parent, one might find oneself more sympathetic to the parenthood of the Father; in times of trial one may look to the Son’s suffering for solace; and while engaged in artistic reverie, one may dance most easily with the Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity thus invites us into relationship at all times and in varying manners, so that we may bask always in God’s immanence even as God’s transcendence remains sure.