Sunday, June 3, 2012

God in Three [Divine] Persons: Blessed Trinity

On this Trinity Sunday, I was reminded by a friend of something taught to me years ago by now-Archbishop (then-Father) J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. in a seminar I attended many years back right here in Salt Lake City: God created human beings because God cannot create other gods because to be created, among other things, is NOT to be god or divine. An essential attribute of God is being uncreated. To create a being that is un-created is to perform a contradiction, which does not violate the scriptural assertion, given to the Blessed Virgin by the archangel Gabriel in response to Mary's protest that she could have a child because she was still a virgin, that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37). A contradiction is not a "thing," but precisely an impossibility. The great logician Ludwig Wittgenstein was fond of saying nothing is impossible except a contradiction. If we throw the law of non-contradiction out the window, we no longer live in a cosmos, which is the universe regarded as a harmonious and orderly system. The beginning of St. John's Gospel reveals to us something that can be known by reason, namely that the universe is a cosmos: "In the beginning was the Word," the Logos. Besides, on Christian terms, the original sin was the rejection of human creatureliness, which is why all sin is a recapitulation of the original sin- our desire to be self-determining, which is why overcoming ourselves by living for others is what Christian discipleship aims at; bringing about the harmony, the communion, God created, redeemed, and is now sanctifying us to have.

Rublev's Trinity icon- a very cleaned up copy


In this same regard it seems well to note that two of the key attributes of God, of the divine nature, which is shared by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are infinite and aeternal. Both of these words have negative prefixes (i.e., in and the dipthong ae). Often these two are conflated, but finitude has to do with space and aeternity with time. Time is a function of change and space requires an object or objects in relation to one another. God qua, who is a communion of divine persons, who is distinct from creation, is also timeless. All of this makes the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity all the more amazing.

A couple of passages from the first chapter of The Letter to the Colossians, which I am reading and re-reading right now, helps me grasp the mysterium tremendum by referring to Christ: "For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority (verses 9-10). And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (verses 17-20).

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