Sunday, January 25, 2015
(Feast of St. Paul)
For what can be known about God is plain . . . because God has shown it. . . . Ever since the creation of the world, God's invisible nature, namely, God's eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.
--Paul to the Romans (1:20)
God always and forever comes as one who is totally hidden and yet perfectly revealed in the same moment or event. The first act of divine revelation is creation itself. As discussed in last week's meditations, it is the first Bible of nature itself, which was written approximately 14 billion years before the Bible of words. God initially speaks through what is, as we see Paul affirming above.
It is interesting that in the biblical account, creation is done developmentally over six days, almost as if there was an ancient intuition of what we would eventually call evolution. Notice that on the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth days it says that what God created was "good" (Genesis 1:9-31); but on the first and second days it does not say it was good! The first day is the separation of darkness from light, and the second day is the separation of the heavens above from the earth below (1:3-8). The Bible does not say that is good--because it isn't! The precise reason that Jesus is the icon of salvation for so many of us is because he holds these seeming contraries together so beautifully, thus telling us we can do the same.
After the Creation story, you could say that the rest of the Bible is about trying to put those seeming opposites of darkness and light, heavens and earth, flesh and spirit, back together, first inside of ourselves and then everywhere else too. They have never really been separate of course, but "sin" thinks so. The Bible calls the state of separateness "sin," and the essential task of all religion is to reconnect people to their original identity "hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3). This reuniting comes through forgiving and even loving, as Gerard Manley Hopkins says, "All things counter, original, spare, strange; / Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)" ("Pied Beauty").
Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture As Spirituality,
pp. 15, 29, 32-33