Proverbs 8:22-31, Psalm 8, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15
I said on Sunday that one way to preach about the Trinity is just to look at what the readings say. This year’s readings were wonderful.
The first reading, from Proverbs, assumes we know the prologue to John: “In the beginning was the Word . . . all things were created through him.” Here, “Thus says the wisdom of God”: that is, his Word, his great act of intelligence. Most of the reading walks us through the beauties of nature—the depths and the springs, the mountains and hills, the earth and fields, and the sky—and says, “I was there.” The Word, the “Second person of the Blessed Trinity,” was the wisdom God used in creating the world.
That’s heady stuff. But it does a couple things for us. First, it affirms the divinity of Christ: what it means to say Jesus is God is to say that he too is “creator of heaven and earth.” Second, it affirms God’s wisdom, and God’s plan—and Jesus’s part in that wisdom. God isn’t random and thoughtless (like we are), everything is wonderfully made, wonderfully laid out, to culminate in Jesus. Third, “I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while . . .and I found delight in the human race”: the idea of “play” affirms the joyfulness and gratuity of God’s love in Jesus Christ. This is good news!
The second reading, from Romans, concludes, “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Where the first reading called Jesus God’s wisdom and Word, the second reading calls the Holy Spirit God’s love. And it affirms, simply, that God’s love has been poured into our hearts. This is the Gospel—I tell my seminarians that I think this line is THE finest statement of what Christians believe. It’s not just that God loves us, but that he shares that love with us, lets us love with his heart, by giving us the Holy Spirit.
The rest of that reading leads up to this proclamation by saying we are justified by faith, have access by faith to this grace in Jesus, and that have endurance. What does faith in Jesus mean? What does grace mean? It means that the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Good news!
Our Gospel this year is from John, and typical for John, it’s heady stuff.
First, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth,” who will teach us what we “cannot bear now.” He is the teacher, and the teacher about Jesus. The Spirit gives us strength, too, and love, but we should rejoice also in this contemplative aspect, where the Spirit gives us a different perspective, helps us see in a new way.
Then come three “declare’s.” The word is an-angelei, and it is related to both “angel” and Gospel, ev-angel. The Spirit brings us glad tidings.
First, he will declare “what is coming.” What we do not yet know, what we are not yet ready for, the Spirit will open the way for us. It’s not so much, I think, that he will tell us the future as that he will tell us the present: The Holy Spirit is with us every step of the way to reveal God’s presence here and now.
Second, “He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” He declares the now, by declaring Jesus. The Spirit, need it be said, is not an alternative route, not, as some older people seem to think, a way to God that bypasses Jesus. He is the one Jesus gives us, and the one who reveals Jesus to us, because he and Jesus are One, and Equal, and he is equal to the task of revealing the fullness of Jesus to us. And because Jesus, in the Incarnation, is one with us, revealing our “now” and revealing Jesus go hand in hand: the work of the Spirit is to show me how this moment in my life is the moment of union with Jesus.
And third, “Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” The Spirit declares Jesus to us because Jesus and the Father are one; the reason we want to know Jesus is because he is One and Equal with the Father.
What a nice little meditation on the Trinity: The Spirit reveals his presence in our life so that he can reveal Jesus’s presence in our life, which is to reveal the Father. That’s good news! Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
How does the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus present in your life today?