A matter that perplexed ancient thinkers was the question of divine transcendence. How could a deity who had existence in a supernatural realm be available to believers in the human realm? Israelite thinkers experimented with different answers to this question, which eventually coalesced into the priestly, prophetic, wisdom and legal traditions of the Hebrew Bible.
‘Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while.’ (Prv 8:30)
How does the Trinity inspire you to care for creation?
What message does the Trinity give you to share?
How does the Trinity draw you into the experience of divine love?
The doctrine of the Trinity is Christianity’s answer to that ancient question. Inheriting Israel’s insights on transcendence, Christianity recognized Jesus’ Father to be the deity who existed in the supernatural realm. The apparent gap between God and humanity was bridged by the incarnate Christ. In the Spirit that the Father had shared with him, Jesus knew the fullness of divine love; this love made God present in the human realm. In that same Spirit, the disciples also encountered divine love, and the church they founded continues to make the divine presence available to anyone who seeks it out.
Put plainly, love is the answer to the question of divine transcendence. When Christians follow Jesus’ example and teaching, they make God present on earth. The readings this week give different perspectives on this task. The first reading tells the story of divine wisdom. Speaking in allegories, the author of Proverbs imagined God’s wisdom to be something with a personality of its own. Wisdom was the artisan through which God brought all creation into being. Early Christians took this allegory as a description of Jesus Christ, who embodied divine wisdom and who was at God’s side before all time. These Christians saw in their own work a continuation of the Son’s role. Just so, Christ’s disciples today have a part to play in the healing and sanctification of the earth.
In this Sunday’s second reading, Paul describes divine love from a different perspective. He speaks of the struggles he has faced in order to serve God’s mission, but these are inconsequential in the light of divine grace. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Belief in Christ gave Paul an experience of the same divine love that had led Jesus through his mission.
In today’s Gospel story, Jesus helps his followers understand both the gift they have been given and the mission attached to it. In the Spirit, Jesus possessed the fullness of divine wisdom and strength. The Father gave these gifts for a specific reason: because he loved the world and wished that it might not perish but have eternal life. This mission of divine love came to the disciples along with the Spirit. It remains our mission today. Christians who work to restore creation make divine wisdom present anew. Christians who speak God’s words keep divine hope alive in the hearts of many. Christians who continue Christ’s mission make the divine presence felt in even the most hostile of places. In each of these acts of love, Christ’s disciples make God present anew in every corner of the human realm.