The Easter season – the principal festival of the Church’s year – has ended. The celebrations of the Sundays immediately following are like an afterglow. Today the liturgy invites us to renew our faith in the Trinity of Persons made know to us in what God has done for the world in Jesus Christ.
As Jesus awakened the beginnings of faith in his disciples, filling them with wonder at the mysterious depths they recognised in him, he directed their faith beyond himself, to the One with whom he was in continual communion – their prayer and their trust, he told them, should be addressed to their ‘Father in heaven’. Later, as the full impact of what had happened in the world’s first Easter galvanised them into action, and they found new strength on the day of Pentecost, they remembered that Jesus had promised them the help of the his own Spirit to face what lay ahead of them (Mt 10:20 etc). Faith in their Risen Lord gave the themes of the Old Testament a new depth of meaning for them.
Our first reading from Proverbs recalls one of these themes. For the Old Testament, the ‘wisdom’ of God, like the ‘word’ of God’ was understood as God’s self-expression in creation and the shaping of human affairs. Now, as his disciples recognised the ultimate identity of their Risen Lord, they knew him as the ‘Word’ of the Father (Jn 1) and the ‘wisdom’ of God (1 Cor 1:24), through whom ‘all things came into being’ (Jn 1:1). For the Old Testament, the ‘spirit of God’ was another self-expression of God in creation. God’s ‘spirit’ worked interiorly – giving the breath of life, and bringing the call of God to human hearts. After the Resurrection, as today’s reading from St Paul to the Romans shows, the disciples were vividly aware of the Holy Spirit as a divine agent carrying forward the work of Christ. And they remembered Jesus speaking of the Spirit as Someone other than himself, sharing as he does in the life of the Father. And in our second reading from Paul to the Romans, what Jesus has achieved for the world is clearly expressed as a work of the Father, Son and Spirit together – the ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ gives us God’s ‘grace’, an entitlement to our sharing in the divine ‘glory’; and at the same time the Spirit brings us the life-giving power expressed in the love the Father has shown us through the life, death and resurrection of his Son.
The ultimate mystery of God’s life is – not surprisingly – far beyond our complete comprehension. It would be tragic, however, if it remained for us no more than a daunting abstraction. Christian faith should bring us the joy of recognising that - in the overflowing tumult of the divine life that we call the BLESSED TRINITY – we find three friends who invite us to share in their common life as the ONE TRUE GOD. Today’s gospel from John expresses this sharing in simple terms, and it brings us this astounding invitation: the Spirit ‘will lead us to the complete truth’, since he shares all with the Son, who in turn shares in ‘everything the Father has’.
John Thornhill sm