Trinity Sunday: Seeing Ourselves in the Heavenly Witness

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Trinity Sunday culminates a lot of what has been revealed the past several weeks in the Gospel of John. Last week Jesus said of those who love Him, “We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Add to this comment what St. Paul says, that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and you have all three making us their home.

But it’s not so much they’re floating down here and making a home in us in some psychological sense triggering our internal faculties. As the Athanasian Creed puts it, the divinity is united to the humanity in Christ “not by conversion of the divinity into the flesh, but by the assumption of the humanity into God.” Christ is at the right hand of the Father. The Father is in the heavens, whom no one has ascended to witness but He who descended (Jesus).

The Holy Spirit bears witness to what Jesus did when He returned to the Father and sat down, restoring the fellowship with the Father that Adam had lost. This is communicated to us by the word, by declaration, by the apostolic testimony, and to abide in this word is to abide in Christ. The word fills our faith with a vision of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, …an innumerable company of angels, …the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, …God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, …Jesus the Mediator of the new testament, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”

However, it is true, “we see in a mirror, dimly,…[and we know] in part.” Not until His return will we see clearly, and know Him fully. That’s St. Paul. St. John puts it this way, “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Notice in both passages this sense of “being revealed, or shown in a mirror” who we truly are, which is a reflection of what Jesus is in His heavenly glory. This side of heaven that vision is dimly seen. But faith is filled with it and has a hope beyond all human understanding.

The process begins at Baptism, where we are baptized “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Here, the Trinity begins to make its home in us. Here, the Lord finds the material He needs to build His new creation (or fully finish the original one, by another interpretation), for the Lord by the Holy Spirit has from the beginning been hovering over the waters ready to draw out creatures by giving them life. Like the Lord seeking out the throng of sinners in the Jordan to begin His ministry, our Lord goes where the water is to find His materials. For He so loves the world.

And there, in the water, people born under the curse of death are born from above, born from above so as to “see” the kingdom of God, to witness it, to reflect the witness of those who came from above, Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit.

The Spirit does it. He delivers it. He by declaration of the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” applies names to the new living beings, just as He has been doing from the beginning, “Let there be light…and the light He called day.” The Word and Name of God (Yehi/Yahweh) creating…the creature bearing witness to that new creation in what it is called. Named in the Holy Trinity…confessing the Holy Trinity. It’s all the same.

The first creation came about by water and the spirit. Adam first came about when dust was moistened by the mist rising up and God breathed in the spirit. Life happens by water and the spirit. And so that happens in baptism.

All creation reflects and responds to this glory, even the babes and nursing infants, in whom God is perfecting His praise and ordaining His strength. They might see quite dimly – we’re all growing and at different levels of dimness – or maybe they see in a profound way we can’t comprehend, or forget, but if the animals, stones, and babies have a way of worshiping the Lord and glorifying Him, faith must be something profound that transcends what our internal, psychological faculties do.

Of course its profound and transcends our minds. It’s the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Mysterious, but yet so intimately, palpably, imminent.

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