Words Can’t Do It Justice

Here’s a thought that has crossed my mind a number of times today, January 6 (which is Theophany). But first, a reminder that the Orthodox Feast of Theophany is about how the Trinity is revealed at Jesus’ baptism. (Theophany literally means “the revealing of God.”)

The Trinity is revealed, according to Orthodox theology, not in words, but in events or pictures. The foundation of Trinitarian theology (and at this point let me be clear that I’m not quoting any Orthodox theologian per se – this is my reflection and understanding of this matter) is not the Gospel of John nor the baptismal formulas as used in Paul’s epistles, nor the references in scripture to the Holy Spirit as a person. The foundation of Trinitarian teaching is the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan. Each person of the Trinity is revealed – in body, in voice, in bird – and so we know the truth of the matter. Saint John, Saint Paul, Saint Luke … just stammering words about these sublime truths. They’re a witness to these events.

But the water … the voice … the dove … Jesus and the, oh, so reluctant John standing in the river …

… In that scene the ineffable mystery of the universe unfolds in a manner no words can do justice.


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