OCTOBER 27, 2009-ROMANS 8:18-25; LUKE 13:18-21

 

THE WHOLE CREATED WORLD EAGERLY AWAITS THE REVELATION OF THE SONS OF GOD.  Upon hearing these words of Saint Paul, our first impression is that he displays with a rhetorical flourish the enthusiasm of the convert in a sweeping statement. But as we listen further we discover that he speaks here quite deliberately and means quite literally to implicate the entire universe as destined to share in the grace of the resurrection. For as he continues his reflections, he explains that “the world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of hope not only for us who put our faith in him as our Redeemer, but the material universe itself is to participate in the new creation that results from the reconciliation with the Father Christ Jesus has effected for us.

 

These statements from his Epistle to the Romans have never been more timely than they are in our days when such large expenditure of human ingenuity is poured out in the effort to interpret the nature, origin, and destiny of creation. They invite us to reflect on their implications as they illustrate the truth of the observation in the Epistle to the Hebrews that “The word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, penetrating to the division of the soul from the spirit, and separating the joints from the marrow. It judges inner emotions and the thoughts of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Saint Paul adds to this teaching that the word of God penetrates to the depths and heights also of the entire created world.

 

In a work published just this year by two prominent scientists we read that science is limited, being reductionistic in its method. It cannot so much as explain the origin of human consciousness, the taste of a good meal, falling in love, the sight of beauty (Robert Lanza, and Bob Berman, “Biocentrism”, p 4). Indeed,, as the same authors state, “Science only pretends to explain the cosmos on the fundamental level.” (p. 2) Nor, on its own terms, can science account for the laws of physics and the ultimate purpose of the created world. Rather, it is the Apostle to the Gentiles who, in today’s reading, gives us the key to such understanding, for it must come as a revelation from God. Creation as our human race has experienced it since the first sin, Paul declares, “was made subject to futility . . . yet not without hope.” We ourselves”, he adds, “although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies. In hope we were saved.” Only in this living faith that gives rise to hope of resurrection, can the ultimate meaning of this universe find its explanation. Meantime, the findings of the sciences of life and of the material universe provide us with detailed knowledge of structure and workings that give some measure of understanding of the vast intelligence, beauty, and power of the Creator and Preserver of life and matter.

 

Jesus’ words in the Gospel we have just heard are suggestive of the same basic truth. He tells us that the kingdom of God is even now at work in creation, but in a hidden way. It  functions and grows after the manner of a small seed, buried in the earth and so hidden from the eyes of men. The plan of God for his creation does not remain inactive, though buried, but grows in secret until the time comes for it to appear and reveal its nature. There is a power at work in creation and in the human heart of those who have received the Spirit through faith in Christ, that resembles yeast in its leavening power. This active presence of God is at work not only in the children of the kingdom, but extends to the whole of the dough of creation.

 

Such is the message of our liturgy today. As we reflect on it in this assembly, we give praise and thanks to the Father of lights who is at work in our hearts and in this material world through his Holy Spirit, given to us with the risen Christ in this Eucharist. & 


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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