How creation helps us deepen our Trinitarian faith
Today we are going to contemplate the mystery of the Holy Trinity using 3 books as reference: the book of Genesis, the book of the letter of St. John, and the book of creation. As Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si’: “Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness” (LS 12). How beautiful to think of creation as a book in which God reveals himself!
Let us then contemplate how creation is present in the creation accounts found in Genesis and in St. John’s prologue, helping us to better understand the dynamics of the Holy Trinity.
To this end, it is important to keep in mind something about the history of Trinitarian theology in our Church. Especially since the Second Vatican Council, there is a special effort in Trinitarian theology to recover our understanding of the Trinity from its Triune aspect, because for a long time in the history of the Church in the West the focus was on each of the Trinitarian persons separately. We have many studies on Christology (theology on the Son) and pneumatology (theology on the Holy Spirit), which are obviously important and necessary, but all this must always be linked to the unity of the Trinity.
If we think of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from the Triune dimension, we recover the notion that God is a dynamic communion of love between three persons and, for this reason, He is not a static, rigid, distant absolute God, but an absolute God in love, who reveals Himself and draws near to humanity and creation. The Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son, just as the Spirit is in the Son and the Son in the Spirit, and the Father is in the Son and in the Spirit, and so on, is what in theology is called “perichoresis”, a beautiful Trinitarian dance of love, a dynamic of communion. From this point, we enter into our reflection on how creation helps us to deepen our faith in the Holy Trinity.
First book: Genesis
Let us begin with the book of Genesis. It is important to note that there are two distinct accounts of creation in Genesis. First, Gen 1:1-2:4a, is where we read the creation story from a procedural perspective, a macro vision of the creation of the entire cosmos. We see how God created everything in a 7-day process. He is a creative, creational, dynamic God, creating the whole cosmos with the gift of his word. Looking at this narrative as a process and sign of the supremacy of God’s goodness, who decides to create everything from nothing only out of love and for love, this process already begins to show the cosmos as a project of communion and interrelation.
The second account of creation in Genesis, Gen 2:4b-3:24, is where we have a micro vision of creation, where God is a character in the narrative that has very human characteristics. God is the gardener who creates the forest and the fruits and the plants; he is the potter who works with his hands to grasp the clay and create the human being; he is the caretaker who creates the animals to be with adam, the Hebrew term for humanity.
In this narrative including various characters, we can see even better the understanding that God is a neighborly God, close to us, who makes history together with his creation, who mixes and places himself in a relational dynamic with his creatures. And the creation of humanity, adam, which is then distinguished as male and female, is that complementarity of man and woman who is called to be the image and likeness of God.
If we believe that God is the communion of Father, Son and Spirit, from the beginning every creature of creation has this same dynamic of communion inscribed in its essence – this is what we are called to do, to live out the dynamic of God’s love. If we are created in the image and likeness of this God who is a relationship of love and who becomes very human, we are called to “till and tend” (cf. Gen 2:15) in this dynamic of love and to be in communion with all creation.
The two accounts of creation today help us to think how in the history of the Church there has always been much devaluation of the body, of the earth, of matter, as if they were not as important as God and as if God were distant from creation, sovereign in the sense of being far from the earth and far from matter.
More than ever, we need to recover the integrality of spirit and matter in order to overcome the dualism so present in the history of the Church and the world, because earthly things have always been devalued even though they are a gift of God’s creative power. It is fundamental to recover the value of the earth, of the body, of matter, in order to better understand how God is not a distant God, but a proximate one, always placing himself at the service of creation in order to share his love with all that he has created.
Creation is a great project of communion of love, as a reflection of the Trinitarian communion, of which we are a part. As Pope Francis tells us,“We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gn 2,7)” (LS 2).
Second book: the Gospel of John
We can now draw a bridge with the prologue of St. John (Jn 1:1-18). If God is this communion of love, each person with his or her particularity, but one single essence which is God, to speak of creation is also to speak of salvation.
If we believe in the Father who is Creator, being a dynamic absolute God, then creation is always happening, because God is always Creator, always creating. If we believe that the Son is the Redeemer, in this dynamic of an absolute that is dynamic, then He is always redeeming, and so Redemption is also absolute and dynamic; He saved us once and for all on the cross and resurrection, but He also always saves and redeems us because God is beyond time and space. And if we believe that God the Spirit is the Spirit who unites and sanctifies us, He also always unites us in this Trinitarian dynamic that from nothing decides to create everything simply out of love and for love. Creation is a constant act of redemption for union and sanctification in love.
Regarding the prologue of Saint John, Pope Francis, in Laudato Si’ says: “In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created through him and for him” (Col 1:16). The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy” (LS 99).
God, supreme and absolute, became completely close by becoming flesh, body; he became Word. The promise of salvation for all creation, from the constant divine intention to create, save and unify, is also a call to be as close as the Son was, to enter into all that is most human, to become incarnate in reality recognizing all the good and bad with which we live in order to also discover ways to bring everything into the communion of love that is the sign of salvation and of the kingdom of God here and now. In this way , we can be not only the image and likeness of God as a sign of the dynamic of love and communion, but also as co-creators of a more fraternal world.
Third book: creation in daily life
In this way, we are called to recognize the small resurrections of each day in the most ordinary things of our lives. Simple everyday things, as St. Teresa D’Avila, doctor of the Church, tells us that it is possible to find God in the pots and pans, we always have the possibility of contemplating how God is present in our lives at every moment, revealing himself in the natural elements of creation. God is always in something of creation and in something of my relationship with creation, because everything is connected in that macro and cosmic context of the divine intention of communion for all creation.
Just as the body of Jesus of Nazareth reveals and concretizes God’s action in the world, because it touches, feels, speaks, suffers, drinks, eats, redeems the body, so too our body is capable of feeling, learning and embodying faith. “The Lord was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder” (LS 97). His way of relating to creation and to the elements of the Earth, and of relating to the people in his environment, everything that is the presence of the body of Jesus Christ in creation, is also a revelation of God.
Rescuing the understanding of the value of the body, of the earth, and how all this helps us to better contemplate how the Holy Trinity reveals itself in our daily lives, in our relationships, in our work, in our struggles. Thus our body is able to be God’s action in the world. To be an action of care for creation and a sign of the Trinitarian dynamic.
Creation itself is also a book to be interpreted, contemplated, read. We are then left with the call to think: how are we reading nature, our common home, creation? And how does this book of creation reveal to us something of the Trinitarian dynamic?