October 7th, Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s first reading takes us to the very beginning of the human story; a beautiful, meaningful and delightful excerpt from the second chapter of the book of Genesis. In this section, the various activities connected with creation are described and finally, of course, you come to the creation of humanity itself. Genesis tells us that God creates Adam and then observes that since “it is not good for man to be alone,” he creates a helpmate, Eve. The whole human experience begins to unfold from that first moment of infinite power – breathing infinite life and spirit into what an earlier text referred to as the slime of the earth. This is a good spot to say a few very simple and necessary things about reading Sacred Scripture.
The book of Genesis is divinely inspired. It is God’s word but it is not a scientific treatise. One interesting thing about the book is that even though it appears first in the bible, it is one of the newest parts of the Old Testament. People were always trying to grasp the meaning of life, causality, relationships and purpose. The Holy Spirit inspired the sacred author of this book. Moses gets credit for being the author but that is very unlikely.
The message of Genesis is that God is the author of all creation, that an infinite number of wonderful beings have been brought into existence, the human creature is above all the others and while sharing certain aspects of nature somewhat like other material beings, such as animals and plants, it also shares in God’s life since God breathed into man a living spirit. Whether or not there was ever life on Mars or what happens when you get to the last known universe have nothing to do with our faith. God is the Lord of all creation and we humbly worship him for that fact, and in joyous gratitude look forward to sharing life with God for all eternity.
When we human beings worship God, we must thank him for all his gifts but especially our uniqueness. All beings beneath us are material by their very nature. All beings above us, angels and God himself, are pure spirits. Only the human being pulls both of those aspects of reality together. We live suspended between heaven and earth and have a foot in both spheres.
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A powerful coalition is trying to undermine both the both the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks be to God, there are thoughtful leaders who are fighting for our health and future. Last December, Representative Henry Waxman released a list of 191 anti-environmental votes taken by Congress in 2011. Seventy-seven targeted the Clean Air Act and 114 were aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency.
What is driving these destructive forces? Concern for profits, of course, is on the table and obvious to everyone but many of them are in error about the costs. Just look at the benefits from one environmental regulation, the new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards. This Act is estimated to create 100,000 new jobs by 2015 including 80,500 from investments in pollution abatement and control. We should not be discouraged in this struggle. The opposition have extraordinary resources. They have the money and the lawyers but the laws and the facts are on the side of environment and good health.
All of creation is a gift from God and, of course, for us this most especially concerns this battered planet Earth. It is a free gift from God but we have the responsibility to use its resources as effectively and as generously as possible. Tragic damage has been done to the planet over the last century and a half. The tide turned about 25 years ago and things have been improving rather steadily. Let’s not let the profiteers take us backwards!
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Everything in nature, all of creation, can be divided into one of two categories – material or spiritual. Everything out there is either one or the other with one exception – human beings.
We are so familiar with ourselves that we usually don’t have a sense of awe about ourselves. We should! A human being is extraordinarily complex. We share life with all the other living beings that are simply material. Whether it be a field of corn, tigers in Africa or snakes slithering through the grass we have much in common with them. The same is true in the other direction. God is pure spirit and the angels that he has created are also pure spirits. Then you come to ourselves. In a mysterious way that is really impossible to completely understand we unite all of creation in our individual being. We are material beings, we are spiritual beings but those realities are joined with us to make us one awesome being.
We don’t want to become narcissistic but we should have a healthy respect that each one of us is so unique. Each one of us share with all creation everything that is spiritual or material, but we are the only being that encompasses both aspects of reality within our own individual lives.
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