Central Idea: Human beings have dignity in their creation and exalted dignity in their redemption. Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity. Practical Application: Living like the Blessed Trinity.
To view Lectionary 166, click here.
Central Idea: Human beings have dignity in their creation and exalted dignity in their redemption.
Prv 8:22-31 and Ps 8:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
- The writer of the Book of Proverbs and the Psalmist use an ancient conception of the physical world but display a very modern sense of wonder toward it and human beings.
- We can see hidden in the personified figure of wisdom the Holy Spirit at “play” in creating the world.
- The Holy Spirit gave delight to God the Father and delighted in the human race.
- The human being rightly possesses a sense of wonder at the natural world and toward himself.
- We can grasp something of the order God has put into creation and our place in that order and it gives us joy.
- Why does man have such a dignity of intellect and freedom, which gives him the rule over this world? It is because God has put it in us. This is another motive for wonder and joy.
- The Redemption Christ won for us increases our wonder and joy.
- St. Paul points out some consequences of our justification or restoration to original holiness, that is, to a right relationship with God.
- The redeemed “stand” or are in a condition of “grace.” We are in a state of being justified by accepting the redemption won for us by Christ.
- Our condition is peace with God. That is, we are reconciled with him, friends after having been enemies.
- In this new state, suffering has a new meaning. Affliction helps form us into the redeemed and glorious persons God plans us to become. Affliction endured in Christ’s grace forms our character into men of integrity.
- What we are by creation is wonderful. What we are through redemption is glorious.
- Truly the Holy Spirits delights in mankind. Who are we to be crowned with such glory and honor?
- The doctrine of the Blessed Trinity is “hidden” in the Old Testament and revealed in the New.
- This Gospel passage is one of those places where the reality of the Trinity is revealed.
- The Spirit of truth will take from what is Christ’s and declare it to the Apostles. What does Christ have to be communicated? Everything the Father has.
- In the New Testament, the dogma of the Blessed Trinity is revealed without being defined. Definition will come later in the first Ecumenical Councils.
Doctrine: The Blessed Trinity
- The central mystery of Christian faith and life is that the one God is three divine persons (CCC 261). This is not just an amazing truth we have gotten a glimpse of because it has been revealed, but it has the most impact on our actual lives.
- We know this “secret” hidden in God because he has revealed himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (CCC 261).
- The Father generates the Son, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.
- The truth of the Blessed Trinity sheds light on the truth that God is Love. The Blessed Trinity in itself forms a community of three, bound together by mutual love.
- In creating the human family, God looked at his own inner life to find the design for it. God’s inner life is a loving, life-giving community: the Father and Son love one another and from their love proceeds the Holy Spirit. The family is also a loving, life-giving community: from the mutual love of a husband and wife comes a child – with the help of God.
- The Trinitarian nature of God is hinted at in the Old Testament, for example in Genesis when God says, “Let us make man in our image” or in the passage we just heard from Proverbs about the Holy Spirit at play in the Creation. But it is explicitly revealed in the New Testament. For example at Christ’s Baptism, when Christ comes out of the water, we hear the voice of the Father speaking, and the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove.
- God welcomes us into his Trinitarian life: Jesus Christ is the eternally begotten Son of God the Father. Through his Son, God the Father adopts us as spiritual sons and daughters. We are temples of the Holy Spirit.
- The “task” of the Holy Spirit in regard to us is that he sanctifies the Church and humanity.
- By “Baptism ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,’ we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light” (CCC 265).
- Does Christianity believe in three gods? No. We profess three persons. Christianity is not polytheistic, as Islam charges. We believe in the existence of only one God. Yet, we believe in the Trinity, who is one God in three divine Persons.
- Each of the persons of the Trinity is equally God. Consubstantial (“of the same substance”) is the technical word which we recite in the revised (and restored) translation of the Nicene Creed.
- Through sanctifying grace, which we receive at baptism, we actually share in the inner, Trinitarian life of God. If we attain salvation, we will directly participate in the Beatific Vision in heaven.
- These are some reasons the Blessed Trinity is not only the central truth of our Christian faith but also the central truth of our Christian life.
Practical Application: Living like the Blessed Trinity
- If the Blessed Trinity is the central truth of our Christian life, it should be possible to live this truth in some way. How can we be like the Blessed Trinity?
- One truth we can glean from the Dogma of the Blessed Trinity is that God is a social being: three Divine Persons in relationship with one another.
- We are also social beings. We are always in relationships with other persons: as a family member, as the member of a school community, as a friend, as a spouse or parent, as the member of any number of civic associations, as the citizen of a nation, as a member of the Church.
- Unlike God in whom each of the three Persons is co-equal, there is inequality in our human relationships. In some, we are dependent on the other, like a child is. In others, we and the other depend on each other, as in a friendship. In others still, the other is dependent on us, for example, when a teacher instructs a student.
- With Sacramental grace we can live all these human relationship as communions of love that reflect God’s inner life.
- The best idea of that inner life of God we have is from Christ. Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s love and he has shown us that the essence of this love is the gift of self. How does this apply to us? A Vatican II document gives us the answer: “[M]an, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (GS 24).
- It is easy to see how sacrificial love applies when people depend on us. It may be hard to provide the sacrifice, yet when we do, we love like God loves.
- But what about when we are the dependent ones? Even when we depend on the other, we can still give of ourselves. Some examples are obeying the just authority of the one on whom we depend, as in obeying a doctor’s orders; offering up the difficult situation, as in patiently waiting when we are hungry; being cooperative and cheerful when getting technical support over the phone; and so on. When we accept the consequences of being in a dependent position, we also have a chance to imitate Our Lord when he was a child, when he was in the wilderness for forty days, and when he was enduring his Passion.
- So whenever we give of ourselves to another person out of love, we are being like the Blessed Trinity.
- However, we also have the terrible freedom to be selfish. Every selfish act is not only the opposite of human love; it is also the opposite of the life of the Blessed Trinity. No one on earth likes to be around a selfish person. We can’t stand people like that. This helps us see how such behavior could exclude one from the Beatific Vision.