Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost—11 September AD 2016

Ordinary of the Mass
English Text
Latin Text

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”[1]


    In his first Epistle, Saint John tells us, in effect, that “it is easier to love our neighbor, whom we see” than it is to “love God whom we do not see.”[2]  We might take exception with Saint John, for we have all encountered people who are hard to like.  Some people are lazy or slovenly.  Some may be dirty and even smell bad.  Others may be haughty and condescending, trying to make us feel inferior and unlikeable ourselves.  But I think Saint John is just pointing to the reality that people's intellect and will are formed by their senses.  We require the input of our senses to decide that someone is likable or unlikable.  So, how then are we to follow this Great Commandment to “Love God with our whole being”?  How are we to know a Being who is pure Spirit?

    We can begin by recognizing that God elected to enter human history roughly two thousand years ago, adding human nature to the divine, and taking up human flesh by overshadowing the Blessed Virgin Mary, being born in the town of Bethlehem, and being given the name “Jesus.”  While that “Incarnation” was thousands of years and thousands of miles away, we have the testimony of eyewitnesses—people who walked with Him, talked with Him, ate with Him, witnessed His miracles, saw Him die on the cross, and witnessed the fact of His glorious Resurrection three days later.

    We also have the Old Testament body of literature that sets the stage for the Incarnation.  It describes the fact of creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and God’s continuing relationship with His fallen creatures—the giving of His Commandments and the prescription of the way in which He wanted to be worshipped.  He did not abandon His people.

    Some of what we know comes to us through “Tradition.”  Some things were passed by word of mouth, and not immediately written down like the books of the Bible.

    As if the written record were not enough, we can know something of God in the works of creation.  To look up into the sky on a clear night;  to experience the power of the rising sun; to witness the miracle of life from conception through childbirth to maturity and even death. 

    Here, with the magnificence of creation, three pitfalls must be avoided.  First, as the Book of Wisdom cautions we must not mistake these magnificent works for the Workman:  We must not imagine “the fire, or the wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the great water, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world.[3]  These are not gods;  they are but the works of God.

    The second pitfall to be avoided is the mistake that modern science has demonstrated the possibility of creation without a Creator.  Far from it, the tools of modern science have revealed a far greater complexity in creation than what we can see with the naked eye.  Today we know that the stars are not mere pinpricks of light on a black background—there is a much more complex structure.  Today we can look deep down into the mysteries of life itself to see incredible (and inter‑related) complexity in a great diversity of species.  Yet we are no better able to explain these things than the author of Genesis could explain them.  The modern scientist must say to God, with his Old Testament counterpart, “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.”[4]

    The third pitfall is that of Modernists claiming to be Christian theologians who want to make the universe evolve into man and even into God!  For these pantheists, the universe and not God is the source of all things.[5]  Some hold that the earth itself—Gaia—is to be worshipped![6]  Some claim a “Cosmic Christ”—a “third nature” of God that manifested itself in the light streaming forth from the “Big Bang” of creation.[7]  Most of these people are obvious frauds and crackpots, but we must be careful!

    Finally, we know God more directly in the Mass and the Sacraments.  In Holy Mass we take a role in the Sacrifice of His Son on the Cross—with the priest and with Christ, we make the holiest offering possible—we offer Christ Himself to His Father.  In Holy Communion we are intimately united to God in His Son, receiving both His humanity and His divinity.

    So we know God in the Scriptures, both Old and New.  And we know God in the unwritten traditions of Christianity.  We know God in His Mass and His Sacraments.  And we know God in the works of His creation—but we have seen that this source requires some caution.  I want to leave you with the understanding that all of these are but “jumping-off points.”  It remains for us to take these sources and to meditate on them.  We should examine the implications of everything we know about God.

    Yes, God created the magnificent universe out of nothing!—but, why did He create it?  Why did He create man and women out of the clay of the earth?[8]  When they didn’t meet His expectations, why didn’t He just roll them back into a ball of clay and start all over?  Why did He overshadow the Virgin in order to begin a life of poverty and suffering and death?

    If you go to these sources, you will have thousands of questions, all beginning with the word “Why.”  You will begin to know God better.  And when you realize that virtually all of your questions can be answered only if we acknowledge God’s love for us, then you will be well on your way to “Loving God with your whole being, and your neighbor as yourself.


Dei via est íntegra
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