Isa. 6:1-8 • Psalm 29 or Canticle 2 or 13
Rom. 8:12-17 • John 3:1-17
It’s hard to talk about God. We live in a world where words are slippery and promises contingent. Idols abound, and the one true God is so often ignored, domesticated, or invoked as a premise in someone else’s argument. We know our confused minds and wayward hearts.
Whom do we address? How can we pray? Trinity Sunday reminds us of the true object of our worship, the Mysterium tremendum et fascinans who draws us into his own life and fills us with his grace.
Today’s lessons, appropriately, are full of smoke, thunder, and light. The psalm proclaims God as the one “enthroned upon the waterfloods.” His voice breaks the cedars of Lebanon and makes Mount Hermon, the Middle East’s most dominating peak, to skip like a fatling. The hem of his garment fills the temple with smoke. Even when he bends down to us in the person of Jesus, the wise teachers of the law are baffled. This is not the God we would invent. He will not be tended.
We cannot climb up to reach him. Before him, we are all “of unclean lips,” cowering in shame. We are “born of flesh,” incapable of comprehending the things of the Spirit. On our own, we know only death, and can speak only of this world, and all that passes away.
And yet he reaches down to us, sending his Son, “so the world might be saved through him.” The king of the waterfloods washes us in baptism. The one adored by fiery seraphim sends down the new flame of his Spirit upon us. His glory dazzles us but it does not consume us. His commanding voice breaks the cedars but calls forth praise from his own. “In his temple all are crying ‘glory’” (Ps. 29:9).
The Trinitarian grammar of our faith safeguards that glory. It exiles Occam’s razor, rouses us from our twittering vacuity. The logic is mysterious, and yet the language we know so well. He is Father, “Abba” even, the tender cry of a beloved child. He is Son, faithful and obedient. He is Spirit, blowing as he wills, filling us with his own life.
He has brought us into his family, made us heirs of his glory. Our destiny is to know him, to come “within the veil.” The Church celebrates the feast of the Blessed Trinity for the sake of her inheritance. Not for speculation, but for adoration. We confess him faithfully, so that we may adore him fittingly. The great hymn to the Holy Spirit captures this progression perfectly:
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And Thee, of both, to be but One;
That through the ages all along,
This may be our endless song:
Praise to Thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
For now, we talk of substance and persons, essence and hypostases. It is “meet, right and salutary” here, but at length it will be set aside. In the world to come, we will say only “glory.”
Look It Up
Read Ecclesiasticus 43:27. “The sum of our words is: ‘he is the all.’” How is this a statement of Trinitarian belief?
Think About It
Do you understand how amazing it is to sing the Sanctus?