Monday, July 17, 2017

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time cycle A St Austin’s July 16, 2017

          Last week, the car that I drive had some problems.  It is a 2013 Mazda 6 purchased back when Fr Jim Wiesner was pastor.  The alternator went bad, messing up the battery.  And while repairing it they found one of the motor mounts was broken, etc.   Well, you say, it worked for over 13 years, what do you expect?  Because we all know, from firsthand experience, that everything, including you and me, eventually falls apart.  Everything, sooner or later, breaks down.  Things wear out.  They don't work as well as they used to.   Even the pyramids look worse for wear.
          Taking some scientific liberties, we can, with apologies to the physicists here, express this more scientifically.  The second law of thermodynamics, as famously enunciated by Rudolf Clausius in 1865, states that: “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.”  The laws of thermodynamics dictate… that nature should inexorably degenerate toward a state of greater disorder, greater entropy. (a la Wikipedia)
          In short, everything falls apart.  It is just the way it is.
COSMOLOGY….   Black wholes…..  a cosmic soup of sub-atomic particles.  Pretty boring.  
          But that is NOT God’s plan.  St. Paul in our second reading today gives us a mind-blowing vision:  For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
(that is, us!)
for creation was made subject to futility, (that is, to falling apart)
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
  (that is, from falling apart)
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.  
          For St. Paul, creation will be redeemed along with us.  There will be, according to St. Paul, a new heavens and a new earth where things will NOT fall apart.  Creation therefore has great spiritual value, and even eternal worth.  Creation is not pointless.  It is not ultimately futile, not “subject to futility” as St Paul puts it.   Creation will be redeemed along with us. 
          What will redeemed creation look like?  What proportion of matter and energy will redeemed creation contain?  Will the atoms that now make up my body, but 10,000 years ago were part of a fern, and 10 million years ago were part of a star, and 100,000 years from now may be part of some CD player, what will eventually happen to them when they share in the glorious freedom of the children of God? 
          We don’t know. 
          Here is what we do know.  We should respect creation.  It has a destiny and it has great worth.  It is not temporary and disposable.  It will share in our redemption, for we are part of creation and unable to truly be who we are without it.  To be fully human we need creation.  We are part of creation and creation is a part of us.  So our redemption in some way involves creation’s redemption, and visa versa. 
          Already creation in some mystical way begins to share in our redemption.  The bread and the wine that I will offer in a few minutes will become - through the action of the Holy Spirit - in a real but not physical way the presence of Christ.  It will be already changed to a different state of being, or in theological language, “transubstantiated.” 
          We take it into ourselves, it becomes part of us, and we in turn become part of it.  We are what we eat and drink.  We share in the Body and Blood of Christ, to live as the Body of Christ, to be the Body of Christ active in the world.  Here and now, in the creation which is us, in you and me, we are the Body of Christ.

          The theologian Michael Himes has a beautiful reflection on this, which he sums up as follows:  “If one little bit of the universe, the bread and wine we employ in the celebration, can be the fullness of Christ’s presence, then all the rest of the universe can be.  The eucharist is the tip of the iceberg.  It is the first step in the transubstantiation of all creation.”  (Doing the Truth in Love, p 129)
          All creation will share in the glorious freedom of the children of God “ when Christ is All and in All (Col 3:11) .   And that makes creation very special indeed. 

          So this Summer, as you vacation or recreate or go for a walk or a ride in the country, appreciate the beauty and diversity of creation.  Know that you are a part of that creation.  And respect that like you, and along with you, it has an eternal destiny and an eternal worth.  For all creation will “share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

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