The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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June 8, 2001 Issue
Fr. Ver Bust's Column:
"Explaining the Gospel"


Fr. Richard Ver Bust
Fr. Richard Ver Bust

We are to approach God in awe

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have touched and still touch our lives

June 10, Feast of the Holy Trinity


By Fr. Richard Ver Bust

Last week we ended our celebration of the Easter Season with the Feast of Pentecost. This week we pick up with Ordinary Time. It extends to the end of the Church Year. A reminder is in order in that the Ordinary Time is not how we use the word "ordinary" but simply not a special season like Advent, Lent, and the Easter Season.

We begin this time with the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. It is a celebration of the wonderful way in which revelation has told us what the Triune God means to us and how that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have touched and still touch our lives. We realize that after centuries of attempting to explain the meaning of the Trinity that we have and will always fail.

Our Creed begins with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the fundamental truth of our faith that there is one God. Yet Christian revelation has helped us know that this one God is also triune. Scripture never uses the word Trinity yet the New Testament tells us about the persons called Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It does so by explaining that these persons have done wonderful things for us. The Creed speaks of the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier.

Our scripture readings remind us that in the presence of our God we are always the creatures who approach our God in awe. Our first reading is taken from the Book of Proverbs, part of the Wisdom literature in the Old Testament. A mysterious figure, Lady Wisdom, is pictured as being present at creation. This female person, like the Trinity, has been the object of interest of many writers. Certainly the author did not intend to write about the feminine side of God. That is a contemporary thought and question. And this was not a female God, as the author's contemporaries in other nations would have projected. The beauty of the world is described. So we are left at least with the idea that God created this world as our home. Later writers will identity this Wisdom figure with both Christ, Second Person of the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit, the Third Person.

The responsorial psalm continues the call to praise God for the wonders of creation. We can almost imagine the psalmist gazing at a starry sky and being filled with awe. Looking out at the sky the author imagines how tiny and small we really are in this immense world. Remember the author had no sense of the universe as we know it. Yet it seemed so wonderful and God had made us, as Genesis says, the most important of God's creatures.

Paul, too, is in awe not because of a sky or creation but in the greatness of God's love in redeeming or as he says, "justifying us." It is by faith in Christ that this happens. And because of this we know God's love, which fills us in the outpouring of the Spirit. God, Christ and Spirit are all involved in touching us with this great blessing.

It is above all in the teachings of Jesus that we have come to know about the Trinity. He spoke of God as Father. He promised to send the Holy Spirit. John's words certainly became part of the basis of the belief in the Trinity. Each person is distinct yet united and equal in John's message. It isn't that John explains this mystery but helps us understand how the persons are interrelated and how they touch our lives in bringing us salvation.

So what do we celebrate today? Nothing more than our Christian belief that God has created us, redeemed us, and filled us with love. We are blessed and this feast enables us to reflect on this wonder. We remember with awe this wonderful God.


(Fr. Ver Bust holds the title of professor emeritus in religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere.)



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