Thus says the wisdom of God:
"The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; from of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
During his last year in office, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics around the world to practice a "Year of Faith." Not simply a year of prayer, this should be a time of study and contemplation. He urged us especially to study our creeds and read The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I have found myself especially blessed because a friend's suggestion of several years ago finally germinated -- I read Cardinal Ratzinger's Introduction to Christianity. Suddenly I understand why the Pope Emeritus introduced a Year of Faith. We must anchor our spirituality in the Creed. Veneration of the saints and devotions to Mary are all well and good, but every Christian should contemplate our beliefs. Our imagination, thinking and decisions should be shaped by those principles that set us apart. Without the Creed we are salt without savor.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity invites reflection on the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. But the whole world could not contain all the words that should be written about such mysteries. Let's take a fresh look at one facet:
Today's first reading is from the Book of Wisdom. "Wisdom" describes herself as a beloved child of God who watched the creation of the world since its very beginnings. She is the "forerunner of his prodigies," and she pervades all things. Wherever the wise look they find wisdom and beauty and pleasure. God's hand is manifest in the stars above and the sand beneath our feet. God's mystery appears even in our capacity to see and hear beauty. As the poet George Herbert wrote, "Who made the eyes but I?"
Cardinal Ratzinger believes the Jewish sage who wrote this book was influenced by Greek philosophy. (We already know he was writing in Greek.) Wisdom was logos, the expression of Being which underlies all existence. So it was no great leap of imagination for Saint John to tell us, "the logos became flesh and pitched his tent among us."
The Christian understands God the Father (who is Being) speaks the Word (logos) who is Jesus, and their Spirit is total surrendering love to one another.
The Cardinal is adamant that we should understand this Greek philosophy which had long pondered the nature of Being. Without a foundation in Ontology -- the study of being -- one's notion of God is apt to be "mythological." It will change and fluctuate with the ever-shifting culture in which we're immersed. God might appear to be a tyrant to one and a father to another and energy to a third.
But we believe at the heart of all existence is Being, or One who is love. God does not simply love; God is love. God does not simply sacrifice his only begotten son; God expresses (empties!) himself totally in speaking the Word who is Crucified Love. That Spirit -- their Spirit -- exhales and exhausts in creating, sustaining, redeeming and fulfilling the universe.
When we say, "I believe" we invite this Being to take up residence within our being, to draw us together into all being, finding our meaning and purpose, our healing and forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation in the One who is All.
Saint Francis knew this intuitively as he prayed, "My God and My All."