CREATING FOR US August 19, 2012 – Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
CREATING FOR US
August 19, 2012
Rev. Emmett H. Carroll, S.J.
In these fine days of summer when we enjoy living out of doors and to experience the warm air and long day, we might profitably reflect on God’s intimacy with us. “God,” says St. Paul, “is not far from each one of us. In God we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28); by Him we are, we live. God is transcendent, yet personal, not a detached deity, but involved with us intimately. “You, Lord, are near to all who call upon you, /to all who call upon you in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
All things receive their being, their very being, from God. “In the beginning,” says the first verse of Genesis, “when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.”
Christian belief in creation holds that by the power of the divine word, God created earth, sky, and sea with all their creatures, culminating on the sixth day in the human male and female made in God’s image. Thus the world belongs to God and tells of God’s glory.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
You set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
You make the clouds your chariot,
You ride on the wings of your wind,
You make the winds your messengers,
Fire and flame [you make] your messengers. (Psalm 104:2-4].
During my time away from this parish, I especially became aware of the goodness of the Lord. One lovely morning, I observed the early sun filtering through the leaves of brush. These leaves quivered with a light breeze; it all suggested a warm summer’s day. A few yards away, the blue water of a lake rippled and sparkled with a fresh shinning. And then I noticed a rabbit, not so wild, nibbling grass on the un-cut yard.
This fair scene, tranquil and inviting, brought me to reflect on that hymn that we have all heard, “Morning Has Broken.”
Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for them, springing
Fresh from the Word!
The tune enjoys an old history. The hymn praises God as it links the current new morning with the first morning in Eden. All seems as fresh as the dawn when it appeared in The Book of Genesis; our creator through the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word of God, brings forth from nothing, our new world. In each morning, we poetically witness a beginning and a start.
Patristic theology emphasizes that God creates the world out of nothing, ex nihilo, to counteract the Greek idea that God simply rearranges preexisting matter. That would make matter independent of divinity and compromise the radical dependence of the world upon God. Against the view that the world is a necessarily occurring emanation, a Christian holds that God creates in the sheer exuberance of freedom. And against absenteeism, Creation affirms that the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, remains actively and intimately present to the world, connecting , renewing and drawing all things to their goal.
That rabbit chewing a blade of grass, that leaf twirling with the breeze, that water rippling blue and shiny, that sun warming and enlightening the earth—all of this depends at each instant on the creating God. Our transcendent Creator fashions the world in the freedom of divine love and dwells within it, energizing all existence.
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, taken up with God’s creating nearness, writes:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. (God’s Grandeur)
Every creature exhibits dynamism, a pushing forth to expand and to renew more plentifully others like itself. So the grass multiplies; the rabbit’s chewing tends perhaps to destroy the individual blade, but the field of grass grows, as surely as the rabbit brings forth other rabbits, and the leaves grow to fruition while developing more buds that will blossom in subsequent springs. All these things suggest liveliness and a motion that slows and then speeds, that freezes in winter and thaws with new life in the spring. On this lovely morning, I am especially conscious of life, but such life vibrates the world around, even if I am aware only momentarily of a few instances before me.
God creates an active world; God labors in his creatures, giving existence to rocks and dirt, giving life to plants, giving sensation to rabbits and deer and fish and eagles. God manifests Himself in His creatures; all creatures labor, work, push along. My creator conducts Himself as laboring in his creatures.
For whom does God do so much if not for you and for me? At this instant, the air here sustains us, and the earth exists under us, and the fruits and vegetables enable us, and the animals advance us and our causes. For us humans, for you and for me, all creation groans and toils. God so supports our being and endeavors for you and for me.
I do not speak of former times or of distant places. I speak of here and now, of this air I breathe and of the sun’s ray enlightening my eye and warming my face, and of the pavement beneath my feet. These God is bringing forth here and now, and God works in them to give me life and freedom and my whole being.
Gratitude behooves me. Among our earliest parental lessons, we learned to thank another for a gift, for an unearned bestowal. In realizing God’s gift to us, a total gift totally unearned, are we not moved to speak appreciation to our benefactor? Thanks be to God. Amen.