God in Creation  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Slightly in advance of Earth Day, I share two writings dealing with the subject of God/Christ in the created world. The first is from a book by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, The Beginning of the Day. It comes from Fr Stephen's blog, which gets a well-deserved hat-tip. The other excerpt is from Ilia Delio's Christ in Evolution (Maryknoll, Orbis, 2008), pp 61-62. Delio is a Franciscan sister and professor of spirituality at Washington Theological Union. In this passage she refers to the work of the medieval Franciscan theologian St Bonaventure.



...recall with me how every part of the created order played a part in the story of Christ's life and death:
* a star appeared at his birth (Matt 2:9-10)
*an ox and ass stood beside his crib as he lay in swaddling clothes (cf Is 1:30)
* during the forty days of his temptation in the wilderness he was with the wild beasts (Mark 1:13)
* repeatedly he spoke of himself as a sheperd, and of his disciples as sheep (Lk 15:3-7; Matt 18:10-14; John 10:1-16)
* he likened his love for Jerusalem to the maternal love of a hen for her chicks (Matt:23-37)
* he taught that every sparrow is precious in the sight of God the Father (Matt 10:29)
* he illustrated his parables with references to the lillies (Matt 6: 28-30), to the mustard bush full of nesting birds (Mark 4:32), to a domestic animal that has fallen into a pit on the Sabbath day (Matt 12:11)
* he urged us to show reptilian subtlety and avian guilelessness; "Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matt 10:16)
* as Lord of creation he stilled the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and walked upon water (Mark 6:45-51).

Most noteworthy of all, the created order in its entirety participated in the Savior's passion: the earth shook, the rocks were split, the whole cosmos shuddered (Matt 27:51).


In every creature, the first person of the Trinity is reflected as the power that holds the creature in being. The second person is reflected as the Wisdom or the Exemplar by which it is created. The third person is reflected as the goodness that will bring the creature to its consummation. The difference in these levels of of expression reflects the degree of similarity between the creature and creator. The trace (or vestige) is the most distant reflection of God and is found in all creatures. That is, every grain of sand, every star, every earthworm reflects the Trinity as its origin, its reason for existence, and the end to which it is destined. The image, however, is only found in intellectual (human) beings. It reflects the fact that the human person is created not only according to the image of the Trinity, but as image, the human person is capable of union with the divine. Bonaventure says that those humans conformed to God by grace bear a likeness to God. In his view, every creature is understood as an aspect of God's self-expression in the world, and since every creature has its foundation in the Word, each is equally close to God (although the mode of relationship differs). God is profoundly present to all things, and God is expressed in all things, so that each creature is a symbol and a sacrament of God's presence and Trinitarian life. The world is created as a means of God's self-revelation so that, like a mirror or footprint, it might lead us to love and praise the creator. We are created to read the book of creation so that we may know the Author of Life. This book of creation is an expression of who God is and is meant to lead humans to what it signifies, namely, the eternal Trinity of dynamic, self-diffusive love.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at Wednesday, April 21, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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