by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Prv 8: 22-31
Rom. 5: 1-5
Jn. 16: 12-15
The Holy Trinity is as essential to Christianity as it is often misunderstood.
The importance of the Trinity, at its basic level, is that God is love. A God that is only one cannot be love, for love is only shared between a communion. A love of one is self-directed, disordered. The truth of the Trinity, of God as three but also one, transcends reason, but it is also inherently logical, for love in a strict communion of one is not possible.
The Trinity is not three separate gods, obviously, but the one God in three persons. Years of devotion, prayer, and study can help us understand the idea better, and get closer to the God who is three in one, but the ultimate reality of God as Trinity is impossible for anyone to completely understand. It’s a mystery.
To me, this is solid intellectual evidence that Christianity wasn’t made up by human beings. Why would a group of people who were creating something have an idea so mysterious, so difficult, so easy to scoff at or say is unreasonable? The Trinity, as a transcendent truth, is logical, for God always make sense and is never contrary to reason (even when he transcends it). More importantly, though, God is mystery, and there are few other truths as mysterious as that of the Holy Trinity.
The awe and mystery of God in three persons is presented well in today’s readings. The selection from Proverbs poetically reminds us of the creative power of God, a power that was ultimately and completely manifested in the humanity of Jesus. The saving power of the Trinity is Paul’s focus in the reading from Romans: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5: 1,5bc).
Finally, in the Gospel Jesus plainly lays out the concept of the Trinity, declaring that the Holy Spirit will glorify him in the Father, and treating each as exalted and connected: “Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (Jn. 16:15).
God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, exists in communion and love. Through the saving power of the Trinity we can also live with him, and with each other, in that same communion and love. It can seem difficult to understand, but this simple truth is a foundation of the essential Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.