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The Most Holy Trinity

Today’s readings show some biblical roots of what Christians would later call the Trinity. Proverbs showcases the role of Wisdom in the work of creation, portrayed as a reality outside of God but integrated into God’s work of forming the heavens and the earth. We join the psalmist in sharing Wisdom’s delight in God’s handiwork: “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:2). In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes of peace with God through Jesus, and the love of God received through the Holy Spirit, distinguishing God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit while also displaying their abiding unity. Finally, in the farewell discourse from John’s Gospel, Jesus--who had earlier spoken of himself as Son of the Father--promises his friends that they will receive the Spirit of truth that will teach and guide them after his departure. 

The word “trinity” occurs nowhere in scripture, but the doctrine of the Trinity is basic to everything Christians believe. How did the church come to believe that the one God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? This complicated story is an example of the church being taught by the “Spirit of truth.” 
In today’s first reading we hear that Wisdom is God’s “craftsman,” helping execute God’s plan for creation. The text is not about a helper god; it is an imaginative portrayal of Wisdom being both “of God” and external to God. We could say that Wisdom is God’s self-gift poured into creation, a sign that God loves creation, delights in it, and (in Genesis chapter 1) pronounces it “good.”
This is the most colorful Biblical portrayal of something “of God” that is given to creation, but there are others. In Isaiah 55:10–11, God’s Word (like the rain and snow) is sent down from heaven to do God’s will on earth, not returning until it is accomplished. God’s Word, like Wisdom, is also linked to creation, since in Genesis chapter 1, God creates by speaking, repeating “Let there be . . .” until the work is done. 

John’s Gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was God”; John later adds “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). This is more than poetic imagery. Here John makes a very bold claim. The prophets proclaimed God’s word, but Jesus is God’s Word--coming from God to us who are not God. 
It took more than two hundred years before a universal Council declared that Jesus was “. . . true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father . . .” Slowly, the church was working toward a doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine doesn’t explain the Trinity, but it does express the incomprehensible mystery of the God whose love overflows into the glories of creation, the messiness of our human condition, and the Spirit of truth that still guides the Church today.



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