Beginning on the Feast of Christ the King and going through the season of Advent, the parishes of the archdiocese will be re-proclaiming the kerygma — the Good News of the Gospel — in what is intended to be an archdiocesan-wide retreat. Over the next four weeks, the Denver Catholic will publish guest reflections penned by priests of the archdiocese on the four main parts of the kerygma: Created, Captured, Rescued and Response.* We encourage you to revisit these pieces throughout the Advent season and pray with the reflection questions provided, so that we may all come to know the saving power of the Gospel in an even deeper way and therefore live out the Lord’s mission for his pilgrim Church on earth! Also, be sure to stay tuned to denvercatholic.org each week to watch a special homily video series on the kerygma.
By Father Israel Perez-Lopez
Parochial Vicar of St. Cajetan Parish in Denver
To contemplate the mystery of creation, we need a renewed mindset, a change of heart, an intellectual and moral conversion. The human capacity for wonder before God’s marvelous deeds must be rejuvenated to behold with love the following truths: the Lord is Creator, he sustains the universe in being, he is lovingly provident, and he desires the salvation of all men and women.
The world’s mindset is the result of a modern ideal according to which religious traditions are mere superstitions, or private beliefs in enmity with the power of human reason. Unquestionably, the empirical sciences have advanced over these past centuries. However, we are inebriated, as it were, with this development to such an extent that we have drastically mutilated the genuine horizon of human reason. Instead of reaching intellectual maturity, the contemporary mindset has aged, and its spiritual sight has become tired and blind to real contemplation.
Thus, in this reflection, I want to offer a contemplative alternative and invite our readers to look at the mystery of creation with a renewed, innocent, and fresh gaze. The reader could accompany this reflection with a prayerful reading of Job chapter 38 and of Psalm 33.
Who God Is and Who We Are
The mystery of creation is the foundation of human existence and of salvation history since God called the human person from the beginning to an intimate friendship with him.
The immensity of the created universe manifests God’s perfections and power.1 Thus, the contemplative attitude before this spectacle moves the human heart to a great amazement before who God is and his power, to trust him and his loving providence wholeheartedly, to glorify him, and to love him in return for his infinite and unbreakable love.2 Moreover, since we are made to image God, only in the light of the mystery of God can we enter deeply into the mystery of our own identity.
We Are Not Creators
Human persons do not have the power to create. That infinite power is God’s exclusively. He alone has the power to create without any preceding material or counsel from anyone (creatio ex nihilo).
Moreover, the human person is not able to give natural inclinations to his artifacts. There is not something such as a car which makes more cars. However, God is the Author of Nature. Especially in those creatures deprived of knowledge in themselves, the wisdom of the provident God is seen clearly. Imagine the necessary knowledge humans need to build a plane. How is it possible that trees make other trees so perfectly without any kind of knowing of themselves as to what they are doing?
Furthermore, unlike men, God has no needs to provide for. This consideration opens the door to an unfathomable mystery. God is infinitely happy from all eternity and the whole of creation, and the complete history of salvation cannot add any perfection to God.
Why did God create anything? What is the point if he cannot receive any benefit? God has created out of his infinite pure love. Creation is an act of superabundant generosity.
The Creation and Conservation of the Universe
The grandeur of the stars and the planets makes us feel very small in this huge home that the Lord has made for us.3 Moreover, faith teaches that being all-powerful, the Lord made everything without any effort through his Word.4 Hence, everything has been made with wisdom and therefore with a purpose.5
Furthermore, God is the Creator, in the present tense. He continues to create right now. He sustains everything in existence through his Word.6
Think, for instance, about electric lamps. To keep illuminating, those lamps need to receive energy constantly. Something similar happens with created existence. God is constantly communicating their being to existing things. If God stops loving any creature, that creature will disappear, and return to nothingness. From Him proceeds the being and operation of every creature and everything is present to Him.7
The Creation of the Human Person
God has always thought of each individual human person and has loved him or her by name.8 Since the Lord does not change, he can neither learn nor forget. He knows himself and the infinite ways in which he can be imitated by some possible creature in one eternal and perfect sight of his divine intellect.
Thus, God knows my personal name eternally. This idea of eternity is a great mystery. I am very convinced that we do not understand it exhaustively. Nonetheless, let us say that at least it means that God’s thinking has no beginning, no end, and no interruptions.
Now, as was said, the Lord does not need to create anything and therefore he creates freely, out of love. God, in his infinite wisdom, can think of an infinitude of possible beings that He will never create. Among those possible names, my name is different. He chose me! He loved me! I am continually sustained in being by the Lord’s wisdom and love. I am loved with an infinite love from always and forever.
Consequently, nothing can separate us from God’s unbreakable and everlasting love.9 This love has made me for a personal purpose. We are called to glorify God in a unique manner. We are made for mission.10
Image and Likeness
Within the visible creatures, the human person has a place of honor. He is created in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:27). For that reason, he is called to manifest God’s glory in a particular way and the rest of creation is made for humanity.
The human person resembles God as the Creator and the Governor of the Universe. God wants men to cooperate with his divine providence in the governance of the visible creation. Man, living like a king in this world, is to collaborate with God. He is to cultivate nature. “Cultivate” means to make nature grow towards its due end, that is to say, to fulfill the designs of God for it (Gen 1:26).
Moreover, the human person resembles God because he is capable of thinking and of love. God made the universe with his Word. Man is capable of words, too. He is made for loving conversation. Along this line, the Bible teaches us that Adam needed appropriate help. What for? Well, he had a mission. He was made to imitate God. That mission cannot be accomplished by a human person alone.
Human friendship was required to imitate God in the way human persons are called to do it. The conjugal friendship between Adam and Eve made it possible to imitate God in a very particular way. They could help each other to become father and mother. This mystery of communion and fecundity imitates God in a way that angels cannot (Gen 1:28).
Partners of the Absolute
The highest possibility of human nature is the calling to become friends with God. God, who with his Word effortlessly made the whole of creation, wants to address that same Word to speak into our hearts. We are made for a supernatural vocation.
In his infinite love, God has made us for a mission, with a purpose, and the final destiny of that purpose is to become children of God and princes and heirs of the Glory. The infinitely transcendent God wants to become our father and friend and wants to converse intimately with us.
The Last Word
Mysteriously, due to what makes us like God, the power for wisdom and free love, it is possible to answer God negatively, thereby not listening or talking to him. This is the abysmal mystery of the possibility of evil (mysterium iniquitatis). The facts speak loudly. We have said no to God. Evil happened and happens. We have turned our back on the almighty Creator of the Universe.
However, in this drama that we call the history of salvation, our words are neither the first nor the last. If God has something to say, there is hope. His Word is almighty and has the power to recreate and renew all things.
After reading this article, pray and meditate with the following questions. Listen for what the Holy Spirit might be trying to tell you.
1. How has the Lord worked in you, knowing that you are created and loved by him?
2. How is the Lord calling you to live in this “created” mindset right now?
3. How is the Lord calling you into deeper friendship with him?
*These terms are borrowed from Father John Riccardo’s presentation of the Gospel in his retreats and writing. The Archdiocese has been blessed to be working with Father Riccardo and his apostolate Acts XXIX for the last year. The Denver Catholic recommends his book, Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel, for going deeper on these concepts.
- see Rom 1:20; Pss 19:1, 119:130
- see Rev 4:11
- see Ps 8:3-4
- see Ps 33:6.9; Jn 1:3; Heb 1:2; 1 Cor 8:6
- see Prov 3:19; Jer 10:12
- see Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3; Acts 18:28
- see Wis 11:24-25
- see Heb 11:3; Ps 33:13-15; Is 40:25-26
- see Rom 8:38-39
- see Jer 1:5; Ps 139:13; Is 44:24