Theology and Science

  • It is really about time that the connection is made between science and theology. It has taken a long time but theologians and others are making the plunge. One such theologian is Ilia Delio, who in her book “The Emergent Christ” has this to say: “Theology is a function of cosmology, that is, our understanding of the cosmos shapes our understanding of God. Creation is a fundamental book of revelation. The story of the Big Bang is the new Genesis story, one that is awesome, powerful, filled with goodness, and very old”. Delio continues: “Creation is God’s self-expression. As God expresses Godself in creation, creation in turn expresses the Creator. Every aspect of creation is an aspect of God’s self-expression”. She was echoing the sentiments of cultural historian Thomas Berry who stated that Creation is the primordial revelation of God. Referring to the statement of Thomas Aquinas: “A mistake about creation will lead to a mistake about God” (Summa Contra Gentiles II.2.3,). Delio adds: “We need to know the book of creation today, as science informs us, to know God” (page 32).
  • Delio, senior fellow in science and religion atWoodstockTheologicalCenter,GeorgetownUniversity, asks the question: “Do we Christians live in an evolutionary spirit? It is my belief we do not; rather, we live in two world systems. In our every day world we are open to the changes of culture in consumerism and technological progress (we have no problem keeping up with the latest technological gadgets), but in our theology and ecclesiology we live in the closed system of a pre-scientific, medieval church, the world of Plato, Aristotle, Dionysius and Thomas. On the whole we Christians are more comfortable with scholastic thought and Aristotelian philosophy than with process theology or chaos theory”.
  • John F. Haught, also senior fellow in science and religion atWoodstockTheologicalCenter,GeorgetownUniversity, has this to say: “For the most part, theologians still think and write almost as though Darwin, Einstein and Hubble never existed….The natural world and its evolution remain distant from dominant theological interest” (Deeper than Darwin, 2003, p 164). Delio adds: “The search for a God of evolution is no small task, but it seems to me that without the God of an evolutionary cosmos, theology becomes incredulous in the face of science”.
  • Cosmology is the study of the origin and development of the universe as well as the role of the human species. It is based on science (mainly physics and biology) as well as on philosophy. The World of the Hebrews represents a very ancient cosmology and is the basis for the formulation of Scripture and Christian theology. In that World God was far removed from everything, transcendent, and immutable, governing the heavens as the great I AM. The cosmos was static, hierarchical and anthropocentric. The universe was a perfectly concentric cosmos, and the earth was flat.
  • The new cosmology, on the basis of which our theology must be formulated, is based on the truth of evolution (biological) as the way life unfolds and proceeds. Evolution is a dynamic (not static) process from the more simple to the more complex. The universe has evolved from a small beginning to the great complexity that we observe today. This process requires enormous time. Change is integral to life – without real change there is no life. Life unfolds from simple structures to complex systems. The direction of evolution is towards greater complexity and greater unity. Simple isolated structures give way to more complex unions.
  • In the new cosmology God is both immanent and transcendent. God is immanent i.e. God is within each and every creature; God is inseparable from every creature. God is also transcendent, not in the sense of being apart from everything (as in the previous cosmology) but in the sense that God is clearly other than and infinitely more than the universe. God is the ultimate source of the whole evolutionary process.
  • The connection between cosmology and theology is highlighted by Clifford Longley in an article in the Tablet of September 24, 2011. “The fact that the human race evolved from predecessor species over tens of millions of years poses problems for the doctrine of Original Sin as an event at a one-off moment in time, and hence for all those aspects of Catholic teaching that are derived from it, such as the Atonement”. Cletus Wessels puts it this way: “In an emerging universe, there is no archeological or historical evidence for such things as a period of original holiness and justice followed by an original sin through which the human race has fallen and become objectively and ontologically wounded” (Jesus in the New Universe Story, 2003, page 188). According to Wessels the purpose of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is other than redeeming humanity from the ‘sin of Adam’/ Original Sin.
  • Cosmology raises another problem for our theology, this time in the area of sexual morality. “The idea that sexual acts are “ordered” towards reproduction, and that sexual acts that are not are “disordered” and hence sinful…..urgently needs redefining in terms that are compatible with evolutionary biology – with our understanding that human anatomy as we know it is the result of a vast process of mutation and adaptation, some of it random, over millions of years” (Clifford Longley, The Tablet, September 24, 2011).
  • From what is being written it seems that theology needs to reformulate our belief in God, Jesus, and Eucharist in the light of Quantum physics, chaos theory, and process theology (Whitehead).  This reformulation is a massive task and will call for courage and openness on our part. Our former metaphysics of ‘ens ut sic’ (being), upon which is dependent our understanding of substance, nature, and person, must yield to seeing matter as ‘lumps of energy’; the physical world as ‘relational’; and substance as ‘process’. Heidi Russell puts it this way: “There is no such thing as particles or objects or matter, but rather only space and energy. What we call the material world is not matter at all, but rather occasions or processes (“Quantum Analogy: Rethinking the Human Person as Spirit/Body”, 2009, page 6).
  • It is estimated that 13.7 billion years ago the universe as we now know it emerged from a flaring forth/explosion of light, heat and energy. In this explosion everything that was, is and will be, was contained. Everything has come from this explosion. From this insight everything is connected, everything has come from the same source.
  • Everything in our solar system emerged from the explosion of one of the early stars at the moment of its death. Herein lies the cosmic principle of new life emerging from dearth. The old star had to die to give birth to our solar system. From this explosion our sun and 8 planets emerged. Everything in our solar system, and more specifically, everything on our planet Earth, have emerged from the same dying star and have the same basic ingredient – star dust. There is a profound kinship between humans and everything on Earth, between humans, other Earthly creatures and other cosmic beings. Everything is related. From this it follows that humans are cosmological beings, earthlings. In fact so identified are we with the cosmos that we humans are those beings through which the universe has become conscious of itself. We humans are members of the one community of life on Earth, part of the one web of life, each with a function to fulfill for the benefit of the whole. As we become more comfortable with this truth we will be energized to take responsibility for Earth.
  • Thomas Berry, formerly a cultural historian at Fordham University and the father of modern ecology, speaks of three governing principles of the universe that have controlled the entire evolutionary process from its explosive origin to the shaping of Earth, the emergence of life and consciousness, and so through the various ages of human history (The Dream of the Earth, 1988, pages 44-46). These are the three principles:
  • Differentiation is the primordial expression of the universe. This principle expresses itself in immense diversity, variation and complexity. Every entity is unique, new and different. No two blades of grass are identical. This diversity is the source of the tremendous beauty around us.
  • Interiority means that every entity has an inner principle of being, is a subject with its own identity. Every being has its own unique qualities and innate worth. Everything is a   sacrament of the Creator.
  • Communion means that all creatures exist in relationship with other creatures. They exist in interdependence and interconnection. ‘To be’ is to be related. Nothing exists separately and in isolation. Communion signifies kinship, mutuality, reciprocity, affiliation and intimacy. “The unity of the entire complex of galactic systems is among the most basic experience of contemporary physics”.
  • These three governing principles of the universe demand a response from us humans. Diversity requires that we strive to overcome our fear of and dislike for differences among ourselves and even grow to welcome them. These differences include race, religion, politics, and sexual orientation. Interiority requires that we reverence and respect all other beings and acknowledge their right to be, to flourish and to play their role in the overall scheme of things. Communion requires of us love and compassion and the determination to promote unity at every level of existence.
  • When will the insights of science be fully incorporated into our theological reflection? This task must be undertaken if the preaching, teaching and ministry of the church are to be credible to the growing number of educated people.
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Cosmic Jottings

Science, religion and experience offer us valuable insights into what we call the cosmos. Let us explore some of the things these three have to say to us.

By close observation we are able to discern that: “a) there is incredible diversity and beauty on our planet. No two creatures are identical. Each is unique; b) All creatures exist in relationship with other creatures. They exist in interdependence and interconnection. Nothing exists separately and in isolation; c) amid such diversity and interconnection, all creatures have their own unique qualities and innate worth. Each being has value of its own”. These qualities of the cosmos constitute immutable laws that we humans must observe and promote.

It is clear from the above that although things in the natural world have a certain usefulness for others, their value is distinct from their usefulness. So, trees are useful in that they provide paper and wood for building, habitat for birds and other creatures, shade and beauty for humans, but they are not here only at humans’ disposal to be treated as we would wish. Apart from their usefulness to us, they exist in their own right and must be respected as such. Are we not tempted to regard other creatures as being there only for us?

According to scientists, the cosmos, as we now know it, has its origin in an initial flaring forth, a burst of energy from which has emerged everything that exist today. It is like a seed that is planted from which emerges a great fruit bearing tree. Nothing is added to the seed to make it become a mature fruit bearing tree. Everything, including the fruit, was contained in that seed.  Similarly everything that existed, everything that exists today, and everything that will exist in the future, was already contained in that initial burst of energy. Moreover, the universe is expanding at a faster rate than was initially thought. New planetary systems are being discovered. In fact it is humbling to us to realize that our planet is in one small corner of the universe and is not central to the universe. Everything does not revolve around our planet and around us humans. That surely must keep us humble.

It is important to note that the creation stories in the Book of Genesis do not attempt to give us an historical or scientific account of origins and nature of the cosmos. Biblical scholars indicate that the Bible contains a variety of types of literature – narrative, poetry, history, legend and myth, among others. The creation stories are regarded as ‘myth’ i.e. stories made up in order to convey a theological truth. These stories tell us that everything comes from the hand of God and is dependent on God for its continued existence. Material beings, including humans, have a common origin – God fashioned the plants, animals and humans ‘from the soil’ (cf Genesis 2).We are all related to one another. We are kith and kin with all creatures. We shall all return to the soil: “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return” (The Ash Wednesday Liturgy). With the natural world, we humans form one community of life, one Earth community. We are not above or apart from the natural world, as some seem to think. There are obviously differences among the various species. There are various levels of consciousness with humans alone, as far as we know, having a reflective consciousness, a mind with which to reflect and a will with which to plan and decide. Humans are that specie through which the cosmos reflects upon itself and celebrates itself. To humans are given the mandate to “subdue and master” (Genesis 1:26), “cultivate and take care of” (Genesis 2:15), and “preserve the various species throughout the earth’ (Genesis 7:3). Because of our reflective consciousness we are mandated to promote God’s initial creation, creatively to build on what God started, to respect the laws and values of the natural world, and to ensure that all is well and in harmony.

“God saw all God had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). There is a certain excitement in God about God’s handiwork. God poured forth God’s entire being into God’s work, God’s heart filled with love. God’s creation reflects God’s nature. The natural world is God’s initial (some call it the primordial) revelation of the Godhead. Everyone is capable of knowing and reaching God through the natural world (cf. Romans 1:19-21). Indeed we must regard the natural world as sacred. God is present therein. [Until the English language changes, it will be clumsy to use inclusive language].

The sacredness of the natural world was indicated when the “Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1: 14) in the person of Jesus Christ. “The Incarnation of God the Son signifies the taking up into unity with God not only of human nature, but in this human nature, in a sense, everything that is ‘flesh’: the whole of humanity, the entire visible and material world. The Incarnation, then, also has a cosmic significance, a cosmic dimension. The ‘first-born of all creation’, becoming incarnate in the individual humanity of Christ, unites himself in some way with the entire reality of man, which is also ‘flesh’ – and in this reality with all ‘flesh’, with the whole creation.” (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, # 50, 1986). Pope John Paul II seems to indicate an irrevocable union between God, humanity and the entire natural world.

According to Pope John Paul II, this irrevocable union between God, humanity and the cosmos is indicated in the Resurrection of Jesus. “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s definitive yes to his Son, to the Son of Man, God’s definitive yes to the whole of creation. In the transfiguration of the risen body of Christ begins the transfiguration of every creature, the ‘new creation’ in which all creation will be transformed. Yes to life, yes to hope and the future. Yes to humanity, yes to creation and all nature …..In the universal new consciousness of our concrete demands of Christian life we have a deeper, added motive to stand up with all people of good will for the preservation and protection of nature and of the environment as well as for natural values. For us, these are not only a valuable good in themselves, but they are also a gift entrusted by the Creator to loyal hands. All nature that surrounds us is a creation like us, creation with us, and shares a common destiny with us, in God himself, to find its ultimate destiny and fulfillment as the new heaven and the new earth. This certitude based on our faith is for us an even greater stimulus to a responsibly aware, indeed to a reverent, attitude to creation: with inanimate nature, with plants and animals, and most of all with our fellow men and women, in whom we recognize and acknowledge God’s image …… Live in the awareness of the new creation that has its beginning in Christ’s resurrection; in solidarity with all people and creatures live out the vocation of all creation to eternal participation in Christ’s resurrection and glory” (Address to Flemish-speaking Youth, Diocese of Osnabruck, Germany, 31 March 1989).

That the natural world is destined to eternal participation in Jesus’ resurrection seems to be a logical consequence fromSt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “…the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God” (8:21).

In the Apostle’s creed we proclaim: “I believe in …the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting”; in the Nicene/Constantinople creed we profess: “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come”. It is popular belief that resurrection refers to humans alone. But is it humans only that will be resurrected and go into ‘the world to come’? It does not seem so, at least according to the quotations above. The logical consequence from the above is that the entire cosmos, all matter, humans and the natural world will move together into ‘the world to come’, transformed and transfigured  into the  risen body of the Lord.

So will the present cosmos be annihilated and ‘the world to come’ be something absolutely new?’

John F. Haught, professor of theology at GeorgetownUniversityin the USA, in his article “Ecology and Eschatology”, says the following: “the essence of biblical hope is that we may look toward a future for the world, not a future completely apart from it. Essentially, eschatology is the hope for the new creation of this world, not the expectation of a total substitute for the one we live in now. A complete discontinuity between ‘this present age’ and ‘the age to come’ would hardly be consistent with the good news of the coming of God’s reign. It would amount to a denial of the inherent goodness of creation and of God’s incarnation in our present world. Just as we can assume some continuity between our personal identities now and our glorified existence in ‘the age to come’, we may be permitted to assume that the coming of God’s reign transforms or transfigures but does not abandon or obliterate the natural world”(cf. “And God Saw That It Was Very Good”, page 54).

We stand in awe at the magnificent plan of God. We stand in awe and wonder as we gaze upon the beauty and diversity and value of the natural world. Just as God was excited about his creation, so we too ought to be excited about it. Apart from the Scriptures and Tradition, the cosmos speaks to us of God and leads us to God. Ought we do less that treasure the cosmos and do all in our power to care for it?

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A Creation Story

A CREATION STORY

Last night I had a dream. God was speaking to me. When I awoke I hurried to write down the dream. This is what God said to me:

“Long ago, well over 13 billion years ago, before anything existed, I decided to use my creativity. I started the process that you call the universe. It started out in a small but significant way. Picture this. My creative love burst forth in a rush of energy. From this emerged particles of dust that then blossomed forth into clouds of gas. These clouds of gas eventually became stars.

Let me pause for a moment. Into the initial rush of energy I instilled my own fertility and creativity. I wanted the energy to blossom forth into a magnificent scene of incredible beauty and diversity. You see, I wanted the outcome to reflect as fully as possible my own being. Perhaps you are not aware of the fact that no one being, including humans, is capable of fully reflecting me. The more diverse the species, and the greater the beauty, the better am I mirrored by my creation. It is only when there is rich diversity and great beauty that humans will be able to see my face as fully as possible in my handiwork.

Of course, my unbounded love did not allow me to more away from the process I started. My love moved me to remain in the process but I allowed it to have its own freedom. I had full confidence that it would eventually blossom forth into a magnificent scene of beauty and diversity. However, like any loving parent, I spoke, and continue to speak, encouraging and sustaining words. I am very much within the process. My spirit fills the process at every stage of its emergence.

Everything you see around you was contained initially in that first burst of energy. Everything came forth from that first rush of energy. The stars, sun, moon, sea and your own home (Planet Earth) are all the result of the fertility and creativity I planted into that energy. This entire process has taken a very long time indeed, and is not yet finished. It is yet to reach fulfilment.

From Earth emerged the coral stone, the hills, and moisture in the atmospheres. In the sea there developed different forms of life. Some of these eventually came out of the sea and onto land. From the soil diverse species of plants and beautiful flowers emerged. Finally humans evolved. This is how you came to be.

It is important to realize that since everything came from a common source, the bursting forth of energy, all things contain the same material ingredients.  Everything, including humans, is composed of soil, water, air and fire.  This fact binds everything on earth together.   Because you share the same origin and ingredients in an ever emerging universe, you are united with everything, past, present and future.   You are all kith and kin, all related, connected and dependent upon one another.   No one of you can exist without the other.  You depend on the sun for light and warmth, the air for breathing, fresh water for drinking, land and sea for food.

Though everything is interconnected and interdependent, everything has its own inner worth and value. You must respect these. Everything that exists sings, dances and celebrates its existence and praises me just by being what it is and doing what it is supposed to do.

We have now reached a critical point in the process of emergence of the universe. Things are not going well in the process, as I had planned. Earth, your home, is having a set back, a moment of crisis. Earth’s singing, dancing and celebrating are being muted. A great deal of the beauty and diversity has either disappeared or is in the process of disappearing. The mirror of my face is being blurred. This is not the first time that this has happened. However, what happened naturally in the past, is happening more rapidly now and by human exploitation.

Look around you. Examine your coral reefs. They are dying. Your mangroves have all but disappeared to make room for tourism. Your sea eggs are not being given a chance to multiply. Turtle eggs are not allowed to hatch. These are being denied their rights to be, to sing, dance and celebrate my praises.

On a global level, sources of water are diminishing, forests are being destroyed, soil is eroding, deserts are spreading, the land, air and water are being poisoned, and species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Earth is diminishing. Its life support systems are being destroyed. And all because of human greed!!! Oh, what are you doing to my creation?

You, other humans and all living beings are members of one community of life. Each member has rights and responsibilities. There is mutuality between humans and other species of living beings. There most definitely is a difference between humans and other forms of life.  All forms of life have some form of consciousness but humans have a more complex form of consciousness. You have rational intelligence and the ability to reflect. Humans are intended to use these faculties to care for Earth and all that exists on it. Humans have the capacity to reflect upon the emerging process (universe), to discover how it works, to cease the destruction, to help rebuild, and generally to assist in the ongoing process of emergence. In your rituals you have the capacity to enable the universe to reflect upon itself and to sing new songs and dance new dances to my praise such as never happened before. But instead, you humans are doing just the opposite, much to your own detriment (physically, emotionally, aesthetically and spiritually), and to the detriment of other living beings.

Now is the moment in the emerging process for decision. What will you do? The universe is waiting with great expectation and in hope. You have the power to break or make. What will you do? Will you turn to Earth for wisdom to rediscover its laws, and use this wisdom to contribute to the emergence of a more splendid and glorious era than ever before experienced? Will you assist the universe, and all in it, to achieve their fulfilment?  What will you do?”

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A Christmas Story

It was Christmas Eve and we had all gathered around the Christmas tree singing carols and getting ready to open gifts before going to the Midnight Mass. Someone said: ‘Tell us a Christmas story’. This is what he said:

“Waiting, watching, hoping – these are the sentiments of the patient.

These were the sentiments of the People of Israel. But not onlyIsrael. All of human kind has been waiting, watching, hoping. In fact, the entire cosmos (universe) has been waiting, watching and hoping from the beginning, not consciously like humans, of course, but in its own way.

The object of these sentiments was always the fulfilment of God’s promise. In the very act of creation, in that initial ‘flaring forth’, well over 13 billion years ago, God instilled in his creation a promise of fulfilment. In a very real sense we can say that the very cosmos contained a promise, the very cosmos was a promise. This promise was being fulfilled at every stage of the emergence of the universe. This happened when the stars emerged from the ‘flaring forth’. It happened when some stars became planets. It happened when the sun and moon and Earth were formed, and when water emerged on Earth and when, from the water, came forth life of all kinds, fish, birds, plants, flowers, mammals, and humans. At each stage of its emergence the universe was experiencing a partial fulfilment of the promise and getting closer to its final fulfilment. The cosmos has no way of knowing what form the fulfilment will take or when it will happen. But God is faithful to his promises and there will be a total fulfilment.

The promise is applicable to humans as well, since we are an integral part of the cosmos. We witness in ourselves an emerging consciousness whereby we are able to acquire knowledge, invent things (technology) and use this technology for our own purposes. We have made tremendous strides. Some have been helpful to us and to Earth, others not. Our consciousness continues to emerge and evolve. This is all a partial fulfilment of the promise.

The promise was further fulfilled when the Creator took on flesh and became an earthling like us (the Word was made flesh – John 1, 4). God had always been within the process of emergence, he had never been apart from it. Now, however, he manifested his invisible presence in the person of Jesus Christ. This event had already been promised to the People of Israel. Now on the first Christmas this promise was fulfilled. At this historic event the angels sang the praises of God and so did all cosmic beings – the hills clapped their hands with joy, the birds sang and the trees danced.

The implications of God becoming an earthling are tremendous. Like the rest of us humans, God in Jesus is, as it were, ‘an embryo in the womb’ of Earth, drawing life from Earth. Like an infant in the womb, we are totally dependent upon Earth for nourishment and sustenance. In the ‘womb’ of Earth we grow and develop and strive for our full potential. Within the ‘womb’ of Earth we are connected with all other beings of Earth and in a state of interdependence. So it is with God in Jesus.

God had always been within the emerging process of the universe. Now, as partial fulfilment of his promise, he takes upon himself the very stuff of Earth, thus uniting himself with Earth and with every being in Earth. Taking on the very stuff of matter, he identifies himself with Earth and with all its beings. He commits himself more fully to Earth and to the cosmos and makes more concrete his promise to lead the cosmos to total fulfilment in God. As the Christ, God becomes a cosmic being. He put the certainty of the fulfilment of the promise in these words of Jesus: “When I am lifted up I shall draw all things to myself”.

Jesus’ resurrection is both a confirmation and a prototype of the total fulfilment of the promise. The resurrection of Jesus involved the transformation of matter, a making new of matter. Jesus became a new creation. In Jesus’ risen being we see the cosmos and all in it, including humans, in its state of total fulfilment, so often symbolised by the idea of  ‘abundance’ (Ps 65,11; Is 30, 23-26).  In Jesus’ risen being we get a glimpse of the brilliance and total transformation of the present cosmos. It is not a new, completely different cosmos replacing the present cosmos. In Jesus’ risen being we are given a peek into the ‘new heaven and the new earth’ of Revelation 21, 1, in which the present creation will be in harmony, ordered as it will be according to God’s plan. The interconnectedness of cosmic beings, already contained in the ‘flaring forth’ and continued through the process of evolution, is brought to fulfilment in the resurrection of Christ. This unity of everything in Christ is beautifully echoed in that very ancient hymn, attributed to St. Paul: ‘In the fullness of time God will unite all things in heaven and on earth in Christ’ (Ephesians 1,10).

In the meantime the cosmos and all in it wait with eager longing, look forward and hope for this total fulfilment. The temptation is to despair, so clouded is the future. In fact the cosmos and all in it ‘groans with pain’ (Romans 8, 22) under the burden of decay. Earth’s life support systems are diminishing – the air, water and land are polluted, and Earth’s lungs, the forests, are being destroyed. The beauty and diversity of living forms are disappearing, never to return naturally. Some segments of the human family live in utter destitution. Humans, in a state of alienation from God and among themselves, are partly responsible for Earth’s diminishment. It almost seems that the promise, partially fulfilled at that first Christmas, is lost.

Still, everything in Earth and in the cosmos, waits, looks forward and hopes against hope.”

When he had finished the story, we all paused for deep reflection, seated around the Christmas tree. We prayed that the Christ child would strengthen our hope. After opening the gifts, we went off to the local church for the Midnight Mass. Everything in the liturgy took on a cosmic dimension – beauty and diversity in colour and light; bread, water, wine, candles fashioned from bees wax, incense – all elements of Earth participating in this cosmic act of worship. There, in union with all of creation, we thanked God for his fidelity and asked him to hasten the time of total fulfilment.

In his homily, the priest drew to our attention that the total fulfilment of God’s promise to the universe, and everything in it, would be manifested when the Lord returns. The Lord will return. This is an integral part of our creed. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”. He referred us to that section in the Eucharist when he will pray on our behalf ‘as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ’.

After the Mass, we met again in a corner of the churchyard. Our hearts echoed the words of Revelation: ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (22, 20). However, we realised that this was not enough. Like John the Baptist, we are to prepare the way for the Lord’s return and for the emergence of the new heaven and the new earth that will mark the total fulfilment of God’s promise to the cosmos. We are to do all we can to make our present world more suitable for humans and for other creatures. We are to care for Earth and for all its creatures. And so we made a commitment to play our part in enabling Earth, and all in it, to attain the total fulfilment of the promise God had instilled in it from the beginning. Then we went to greet the other parishioners – Merry Christmas.

P.S. The medieval humans viewed themselves as being ‘embryos in the womb of Earth’. This is in sharp contrast to the present Western Industrial view. In the medieval concept, humans share in the energies of all other creatures in the cosmos. There is a sense of humans participation in nature, of being integrated, interconnected and interdependent with all other creatures, rather like sharing in the same life. In present Western Industrial concept, there is a sense of humans being detached, separate and apart from the rest of nature. We alone are made to the image and likeness of God and are empowered by our intellect to lord it over the rest of creation and to exploit nature for our own benefit. There is little thought for the well being of Earth.

(cf. David Toolan SJ ’s article ‘The Voice of the Hurricane: Cosmology and Catholic Theology of Nature’ in the book “And God Saw That It Was Good”, United States Catholic Conference, 1996).

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