Homily for Trinity Sunday
May 30, 2010
Prov 8: 22-31
St. Vincent’s Hospital, Harrison, N.Y.
“I was beside him as his craftsman…and I found delight in the human race” (Prov 8: 30-31).
Wisdom is speaking, Wisdom personified, speaking as God’s collaborator in the creation of the universe.
According to our Christian understanding of God, Divine Wisdom is indeed personified in the 2d Person of the Holy Trinity, in the Son. The greatest church in Christendom in the Middle Ages was Hagia Sophia, “Holy Wisdom,” the cathedral of Constantinople, consecrated to Christ the Wisdom of God. A museum today, it’s still an architectural and artistic marvel.
The Scripture reading tells us that Wisdom—God the Son in our Christian interpretation—joins the Father in creating an orderly universe, a “wise” universe. It’s interesting that Divine Wisdom calls herself—in Proverbs Wisdom is feminine, but that shouldn’t stop us from linking her with the Son of God, for Christ encompasses all of humanity—Wisdom calls herself a “craftsman.” Altho the Hebrew vocabulary of Proverbs and the Greek vocabulary of the gospels are different, a “craftsman” is what Jesus became as a human being, a craftsman, the legal son of a craftsman—or, as we usually put it in English, a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. The Wisdom of God shaped the universe, and the human race within that universe; the Wisdom of God also crafted our redemption after we tried by our sins to ruin what God had created. The Son of God re-created the universe, made us, as St. Paul says, “a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).
You’re no doubt more used to connecting wisdom with the Holy Spirit than with God the Son. Long ago, when preparing for Confirmation, we learned that wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And when we pray for wisdom, more likely we turn to the Holy Spirit than to Jesus.
I’m no theologian. If great theologians like St. Augustine and St. Thomas couldn’t adequately explain the Trinity, I certainly can’t. But we can at least say that the Holy Spirit is the connector, the bonder, the unifier. The Spirit comes from the Father and the Son to us to join us to them. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts thru the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). So the Divine Wisdom and Divine Love flow from the Father and the Son to us thru the Spirit.
What is wisdom? Nothing to do with being a “wise guy,” of course. At Christmas we refer often to the “wise men.” Who were they? Men who sought Christ! So, in broad terms, we may say that wisdom consists in seeking God, or seeking all that God is: truth, goodness, virtue. As the Bible says, “Fear of the Lord”—meaning reverence—“is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 110:10; cf. Prov 1:7; 9:10; Job 28:28). This kind of wisdom, the kind that looks for goodness and truth, is the Lord’s “delight day by day,” as our 1st reading proclaims (Prov 8:30).
The reading ends with this line: “I found delight in the human race.” It wasn’t enuf that Wisdom created the universe. No—Wisdom wants to be with the best part of creation, with people. As Christians we believe, in fact, that Divine Wisdom became one of us: “The Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
God’s Son “delights in the human race” so much that he became human, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of Mary, lived us among us for more than 30 years, formed very close bonds of friendship with chosen men and women.
And why did God, in his wisdom, do that? Out of love, out of a desire to have humanity as his companions and friends forever: “I found delight in the human race.” Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity, which is God as family, to use human terms we can understand. God wants his family to be expanded. So he adopts us as his children—chosen and beloved like the apostles—by making us like his Son Jesus. Jesus pours out his Holy Spirit upon us, bonding us intimately to himself. We become “sons in the Son,” to use an old phrase, God’s children because Christ has laid hold of us and grappled us to himself, so much does he love us and want us as his own.