May 26, 2013 - The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Prov 8:22-31; Rom 5:1-5; Jn 16:12-15
What is Mine is Yours
"Everything that the Father has is mine" (John 16:15)
Mi casa es su casa, "My home is your home," is the greeting extended to visitors in many Hispanic households. The hospitality offered is boundless, as hosts outdo themselves in generosity, eager to share with guests everything they have. Most humbling is the way in which communities that have little more than tortillas, rice, and beans as daily fare will find a way to add a bit of meat or other delicacies when guests are present, expending their last resources to ensure the comfort of the visitor.
In some ways this example of persons who pour out themselves in generosity to others gives us a glimpse of the relationship among the persons of the Trinity and of their outpouring of love for us. In today's gospel reading Jesus has been speaking with his disciples about the Paraclete that will come when he departs. As he describes all that the Paraclete, the Spirit, will be and do, we recognize these as the very things that comprised Jesus' person and mission. Jesus explains that the Spirit "will take from what is mine and declare it to you." But what is Jesus' is also what is the Father's, as Jesus asserts, "Everything that the Father has is mine." There is no "yours and mine" in the Godhead-only "ours," as the three interweave in a communion of love in which there is no possessiveness.
Along with the lack of possessiveness that characterizes the Trinity, there are likewise no claims of priority. As the first reading asserts, Wisdom was present at the creation of the cosmos, at the side of the Creator, as a skilled artisan. The opening verse is sometimes translated, "The Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways" (NAB Lectionary), reflecting the usual meaning of the Hebrew verb qana, "to acquire." But here the context implies acquisition by birth so that the verse is better rendered, "The Lord created me at the beginning of his work" (NRSV) or "The Lord begot me, the first-born of his ways" (NAB).
The last part of the phrase is also ambiguous. The Hebrew reshit can signify temporal priority, "firstborn," or it can connote excellence. The author of Colossians applies this expression, "the firstborn of all creation," to Christ (Col 1:15). There are also strong parallels between what is said of Wisdom in Proverbs 8 and what is said of the Logos in the prologue of the Gospel of John, so that Christ is understood as Wisdom Incarnate, preexistent one, participating in the work of the Creator. The Spirit too, which hovered over the watery chaos at the beginning of creation (Gen 1:2), continues to be the re-creative and revivifying force that engenders life in the post-resurrection experience of the disciples. All three persons of the Trinity existed from the beginning and interrelate as equal in being and function, creating, saving, and enlivening all that exists. They invite us to replicate their nonpossessiveness in our relationships, recognizing that nothing I have is mine alone but is "ours" for the common good.
The final verses of the reading from Proverbs capture the utter delight that characterizes the relationship among the members of the Trinity. Just as Wisdom was the Creator's delight, so Wisdom finds delight in the human race and in playing on the surface of Earth. The Holy Three-in-One invites us to share in this playful delight, enjoying the freedom that comes from saying, "Everything I have is yours."
PRAYING WITH SCRIPTURE
1. How do your acts of hospitality replicate the way the members of the Trinity interrelate?
2. Ask the Holy One to help you let go of possessiveness.
3. Pray with Proverbs 8:30. Feel the delight of the Creator and Holy Wisdom in one another, in Earth, and in the human race
Barbara E. Reid, O.P.
Professor of New Testament Studies
Vice President and Academic Dean
This reflection first appeared in America magazine and can now be found in Abiding Word. Sunday Reflections for Year C (Liturgical Press, 2012).
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