Friday, November 13, 2015

So It Will Be

By Colleen O’Sullivan
All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan…  For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.  (Wisdom 1:1,5)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.  (Psalm 19:2-3)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all…  So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”    (Luke 1716-17, 30)

For the beauty of the earth;
For the beauty of the skies;
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Our Scripture readings for today were written millennia ago, but in many ways, they could have been written only yesterday.  The author of the Book of Wisdom writes about the wonders of creation – fire, wind, stars, water, etc.  People in his day certainly noted the beauty of the world around them, but they didn’t go far enough in their consideration of how it all came to be.  They deified the elements themselves and somehow missed seeing the God who is behind all of it.

We don’t make gods out of the elements nowadays; we are so busy we don’t even notice the world around us half the time.  Our eyes are glued on Facebook, Twitter, video games and whatever else we find on our iPhones and other high-tech gadgets. One of the nicest things about the 30-day retreat I went on last year was the opportunity to put all that aside and to literally smell the flowers and the sea instead.  One morning during that time, my retreat director and I sat on a bench in a garden and talked about the beauties of creation.  She was into the macro-aspects of God’s handiwork, the size of the universe, the number of solar systems, etc.  I, on the other hand, see the beauty of God’s work on a much smaller scale.  I am fascinated by the intricacies of any one cell in our bodies and how it knows what type of cell to become, how to work with like cells and how, as a group, they, in turn, work with other kinds of cells to make us function as human beings.  But, whether we’re into the big picture or the tiny details, how could anyone really think all this came into being without a Creator behind it?  The trick is not to take it all for granted but to take the time to “smell the roses” and give our world some thought.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking to his disciples about the day he returns to the earth.  He says there will be many people who are unprepared for his coming.  He’s right.  Not much has changed in the centuries between then and now.  We still tend to live as though we’ve got an eternity of days stretching out ahead of us in this world.  The disciples didn’t want to hear Jesus talk about his impending suffering and death.  We don’t like to think about our own deaths.  Jesus’ return seems so far off, it’s not even on our radar screens.  The Scriptures are full of references to the transient nature of life on earth, but we have invented a plethora of ways to ignore them.  More than any parable Jesus ever told about not knowing the time or the place, September 11th brought home to me the necessity of trying to live each day as if it might be our last, because the truth is, it might be. One of these days, it will be.

The message I take from these two Scriptures readings paired together is to wake up.  Wake up and appreciate the world in which God has placed us.  Too many of us are missing the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the skies, and the amazing power and love of the God who fashioned all of it. 

Wake up.  Live today as if it were your last day.  No one has an eternity of tomorrows in this life.  If there’s someone you’re at odds with, go and resolve the situation.  Forgive them.  If there’s something you need to do before you die, don’t put it on a bucket list.  Do it.  If there’s anything you need from someone, go and ask them for it.  Don’t procrastinate.

When you have time, download or purchase a copy of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sí on the environment.  Once we have taken the time to notice the created world, we will want to take care of what God has entrusted to us.  The encyclical is beautifully written and very readable.  

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