DAVID MARION Trinity Sunday Proverbs 8:22-31 Romans 5:s-5, John 16:12-15
TODAY WE HAVE THE first of the great feasts of the Church in which a mystery of the faith is made the flicus of the liturgy. Trinity Sunday is, on the scale of the life of the Church, quite new. It was instituted six and a half centuries ago in 1334 by Pope John XXII.
The doctrine of the Trinity was of course defined many centuries before at the Council of Nicea in 325. It remains a central part of the Creed which we use each Sunday. Jesus was, we say, "eternally begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son".
Such definitions are ways in which the Church has come to some understanding of the nature of God as revealed to us in the Scriptures. But at the end of the day it would be easier for an ant to understand the inner life of Einstein than for a human being to understand the nature of God.
That is why Psalm 8, which we read today, is so much to the point. So amazing and wonderful are the works of God that the Psalmist is forced into humility. "What is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?"
The reading from the book of Proverbs introduces us to a different idea of Wisdom, as a reality so close to God as to be almost part of God. In St Matthew's Gospel Jesus takes up the wisdom theme and applies it to himself. God's word is hidden from the learned and wise of this world and revealed only to the simple. Only through Jesus can people come to the Father. The Son and the Father are so close that only they understand each other.
Our Lord, in today's Gospel, tells his apostles that only the Holy Spirit can lead them into "the complete truth".
St Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans does not attempt a doctrinal definition. He just explains the Trinity through his experience. Faith in Jesus has brought him into peace and after that the Holy Spirit has given him the love of God. That Spirit brought the wind which blew the new church on its way.
It is frustrating that we, who like to have an answer for everything, can only have but an outline idea of the richness and generosity of the inner life of God. But who do we think we are? The best understanding that we can come to, endorsed by centuries of faith and worship, is the ancient formula "One God, three Persons". t