It's not easy to reflect on the Trinity using three readings whose authors never wrote about the Trinity as we define it. Yet even though we differ in what we know about God, we and they are still united in a mutual quest to understand God; an ongoing process which never stops or reaches an end.

Though the Scriptural canon was closed almost 1,900 years ago, the pursuit to learn more about God continues.

In our Christian history, we can trace this quest back through our first and second century inspired writings, into the first ecumenical council at Nicea, which gave us our initial formal, philosophical definition of the Trinity in 325. And it continues forward into our own day with the sanction and encouragement of Scripture.

Sending spirit

John's Jesus reminds us in the Gospel (John 16:12-15) that He sends the Holy Spirit to His followers for two reasons: to remind them of everything He said; and to help them discover things He didn't say, things His immediate disciples could "not bear" to hear. John believes that this spirit/force, whom we today look upon as God, actually will help us understand more about God through the centuries.

Thankfully, both the author of Proverbs and St. Paul give us insights into how our quest to understand God is to be carried out.

The former (Proverbs 8:22-31) takes us back to a time before creation, telling us that God always puts some of God's wisdom into whatever God creates. "When the Lord established the heavens, I was there; when He marked out the vault over the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above."

According to the Proverbs author, we can discover something about God just by looking around us. That's why he frequently encourages his readers to study nature. By learning nature's patterns, we learn God's patterns.

Paul carries the Proverbs writer's insight several steps further (Romans 5:1-5). He also is convinced that we can discover God in creation but believes that Jesus, God's Son, teaches us about God More than anyone or anything else. And he especially finds God present in an event, which the author of Proverbs knew nothing about: Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, an event which seems to break all the patterns.

Most people have no problem experiencing God working in their lives when good things are happening. It's easy to "boast in hope of the glory of God." But few people delve deeply enough into their pain to discover dimensions of God they'd never discover if they hadn't suffered. Paul calls upon the Christians in Rome to do just that.

Insights

Because the Apostle believes all insights of Jesus are one with Jesus, he can write, "We boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and 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."

Paul believes that, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, everything that happens in our life provides us with a Spirit-inspired insight into God working in our life. He's convinced that Jesus' suffering and death helps us appreciate our daily suffering and death. Just as Jesus' pain led Him to life, so does ours.

Perhaps it's good to celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, which was developed after scriptural revelation was ended. It overcomes the natural temptation to think of the Bible as an "answer book." It's a reminder that Scripture's original readers primarily looked at their sacred library as a "questioning book," a collection of writings which poses many questions which we still haven't been able to answer after 20 centuries of trying.

(06-07-01)