JULY 1, 2006, MATTHEW 8:5-17

IT WAS OUR INFIRMITIES HE BORE, OUR SUFFERINGS HE ENDURED. These words from Isaiah the prophet, applied to the many miraculous deeds of healing that Jesus performed, were written after his passion, death and resurrection. With reflection and further enlightenment, our Lordís followers were able to understand with greater insight into Godís plan of salvation, the deeper significance of Jesusí healings. They are an indication that already the salvation he brings is active in the world through his person. The bodily cures he performed are more than acts of compassion; they are a demonstration of a divine intervention in view of definitive delivery from the forces that interfere with human welfare and happiness. Only after the resurrection were the disciples able to grasp that the power at work in the Lord is properly ordered to that life which is not touched by sickness, death and alienation. Faith in the Risen Christ is the key that opens up the fuller meaning of his life, teaching and sufferings.

That there is a mysterious dimension to our Lordís actions is no great surprise for those who believe in him as the Incarnate Son of God. But until he rose from the dead the presence of this divine plan operative in his person was perceived only in a limited way. The full import of the healings he effected can be grasped only by a revelation from God, by a special intervention of his Spirit. This elementary principle remains as true today as it was in the time of the apostles. Faith is a divine gift; it is also a choice made in the face of mystery. We must respond to the grace by a personal decision that engages us in a radical relationship with God himself. Only those who belong to God, who accept to be chosen by him as beloved members of his household are capable of perceiving his presence in the life and deeds, the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus. Once this faith is rooted in the heart, we are capable of learning to discern Godís revelation and his plan of salvation in all the created cosmos. All things speak of God to those who love him, to those who belong to him.

There is a hidden, mysterious presence in the created world that invites us to read its message. The labor of exploring life, nature, history, society undertaken in faith reveal traces of God everywhere and give indications of his attributes. That he is all-wise, all-powerful, surpassingly beautiful, that he cares for his creation, guides it to his ends, and loves what and whom he has made can be experienced by those who devote themselves to seeking his ways. The monastic fathers refer to such a search as theoria physike, the contemplation of nature. A recent, striking instance of the fruitfulness of such an approach to creation is provided by a renowned biologist in our own country, Francis Collins. He was headed the team that successfully sequenced the entire human genome in 2003. In a forthcoming book he comments on his experience as he completed this achievement that has such vast implications for the further study of our human nature. Note that he speaks of the genetic code as a text, that is to say, a message written in our human nature by God himself. His words are a witness to the truth latent in todayís Gospel text to the effect that God is present and active not only in his Son, Jesus, but all nature, all creation is subject to him and manifests his goodness, his wisdom and, not least of all his love. .

For me the experience of sequencing te human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship. When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you canít survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I canít help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of Godís mind."

This vague sense of Godís mind that can be conveyed by nature to those who seek the traces he leaves in creation becomes clear knowledge of Godís heart as well as his mind to those who put their faith in the risen Lord Jesus. HE IT WAS WHO BORE OUR INFIRMITIES , WHO ENDURED OUR SUFFERINGS. May our sharing in this Eucharist strengthen our faith and unite us with him in grateful love.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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