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Seek First to Love and Join in Creation

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nature: Week 1

Created to Love
Thursday, November 10, 2016

In the fourth century, St. Augustine (354-430), an official Doctor of the Church (meaning his teaching is considered reliable), said, “the church consists in the state of communion of the whole world.” [1] Wherever we are connected, in right relationship—you might say “in love”—there is the Christ, there is the authentic “body of God” revealed. This body is more a living organism than any formal organization.

Non-human creation is invariably obedient to its destiny. Animals and plants seem to excitedly take their small place in the “circle of life,” in the balance of nature, in the dance of complete interdependence. It is only we humans who have resisted our place in “the one great act of giving birth” (see Romans 8:22), even though we had the most powerful role! Humans, in fact, have frequently chosen death for themselves and for so many other creatures besides. We are, by far, the most destructive of all species. As St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179, also a Doctor of the Church) writes:

Human beings alone are capable of disobeying God’s laws, because they try to be wiser than God. . . . Other creatures fulfill the commandments of God; they honor [God’s] laws. . . . But human beings rebel against those laws, defying them in word and action. And in doing so they inflict terrible cruelty on the rest of God’s creation. [2]

Jesus clearly taught that if we seek first God’s kingdom and the universal law of love (“love God and love one another,” Matthew 22:37-40), all the rest would take care of itself (see Matthew 6:33). We would no longer blatantly defy the laws of nature but seek to live in harmony and sustainability with Earth and all her creatures. This radical lifestyle demands a sense of inherent dignity that is granted by God and not an off-and-on dignity determined by egocentric humans.

As Homo sapiens (“Wise Humans”), we should have taken our place as what Teilhard de Chardin called “the pinnacle of evolution” or “the rocks come to consciousness.” Then we could join with the rest of creation in obedience to our unique and full destiny. In poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words:

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
. . . myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came. [3]

When we get the “who” right and realize that who I am is love, then we will do what we came to do: Love God and love all that this God has created. I firmly believe that grace is inherent to creation and not an occasional additive, and that God and goodness—not Armageddon—have both the first and final word, which we call divine creation and final resurrection.

Gateway to Silence:
Brother Sun, Sister Moon, help me see God in all things.

[1] Augustine, “Ecclesiam in totius orbis communion consistere,” from De unitate ecclesiae (On the unity of the Church), XX, 56.
[2] Hildegard of Bingen: Devotions, Prayers & Living Wisdom, ed. Mirabai Starr (Read How You Want: 2008), 43-44.
[3] Gerard Manley Hopkins, “When Kingfishers Catch Fire,” Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics: 1985), 51.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Creation as the Body of God,” in Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, ed. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (The Golden Sufi Center: 2013), 235-241.

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