Fear, Wisdom, and Kindness

“Creation of mankind” sculpture by Frederick Hart, Washington National Cathedral | Wikimedia Commons | bit.ly/2s53xmO

Trinity Sunday, June 11

Gen. 1:1-2:4aPs. 8 or Cant. 13 (or Cant. 2)
2 Cor. 13:11-13Matt. 28:16-20

Formless and void, darkness over the deep: the first elements churn in a murky soup of being. God rides on wings over the face of the waters. God calls forth light, makes a dome in the sky, and pushes mud above the waters. The land brings forth plants and fruit trees, God allowing. God puts two glowing orbs in the sky and speckles the dome with shining jewels. God lets the waters swarm and makes sky the realm of birds. God lets the earth bring forth living creatures, cattle, creeping things, and wild animals. God prepares to make humans, saying, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). “Let us,” says God.

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord alone” (Deut. 6:4). An NRSV footnote adds: “Or The Lord our God is one Lord, or The Lord our God, the Lord is one, or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.” There is one God, one divine substance, one cause of all being. God is sovereign and majestic, above the heavens, that than which nothing greater can be conceived. God creates, and looks, and admires the goodness of created beings, calling their summation “very good.” God finishes the work, rests, and looks in contemplative love.

Love is the ground of all being, the font of the universe. To human beings, this may feel like power, the power of love. Beholding the grandeur and magnificence of nature, humans sense a power source. Looking more deeply, creation shows evidence of order and purpose on so grand and small a scale that we naturally sense a mystery is at work from moment to moment. Something like Wisdom cries out. More subtle still is the sense, violated often by tragedy, that there may be something like kindness in all seven days of an evolving creation. The great Leviathan owes its existence to another, is guided by an unseen wisdom, is preserved by a kindness put in the water world.

Hugh of St. Victor, speaking of the Trinity, imagined three days that are, in essence, one day. “The omnipotence of God is considered and arouses our heart to wonder, it is the day of the Father; when the wisdom of God is examined and enlightens our heart with recognition of the truth, it is the day of the Son; when the kindness of God is observed and enflames our hearts to love, it is the day of the Holy Spirit. Power arouses fear; wisdom enlightens; kindness brings joy. On the day of power we die through fear. On the day of wisdom, we are buried away from the clamor of this world by contemplation of the truth. On the day of kindness, we rise through love and desire of eternal goods” (On the Three Days, trans. Hugh Feiss, OSB).

Wondrous fear, the contemplation of Wisdom, and the enflaming warmth of kindness suggest the mystery of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, though this mystery would only be named after the revelation of Jesus Christ. In Christ’s coming, the grace of his life is the first experience of his followers. He heals and casts off demons and teaches as one with authority, even raises the dead. He embodies the love and presence of God so vividly, articulately; a Word, it seems, from the Father (John 1:18). Departing from the disciples, Jesus promises that he will not leave them orphaned. He sends the Holy Spirit, his own Spirit, the Spirit who is the Father’s love for the Son and the Son’s love for the Father. Sending the Spirit, he sends the Trinity: holy fear, Wisdom, and kindness in the unity of one being. A love story.

Look It Up
Read Matthew 28:19.

Think About It
Indeed: think.


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