On creation, action and reaction

Monday of the 5th Week in Ordinary time
Genesis 1:1-19; Psalm 104; Mark 6:53-56

I’ve always been in awe of creative people, especially their ability to conjure beauty out of the ordinary and banal. It’s amazing how artists seem to be able to create art out of things so ordinary – cans of paint, crayons, eggshells etc. These artists are able to transform the ordinary into art. They create or make things that we consider beautiful. The question here is, where does the beauty come from?

Creation of galaxies (seen from the Hubble Telescope)

In the book of Genesis from today’s First Reading, God created everything ex nihilo or out of nothing. God’s creation of the heaven and earth is beyond space and time and hence beyond our own understanding. Our limited means of trying to explain how the universe came about led us to come up with theories like the big bang. But what occurred before that is inconceivable. We’re just unable to imagine the nothingness before. There were no building blocks, no paint – nothing but God was able to create everything. Such is the power of God.

Our inability to understand creation ex nihilo does not mean that we don’t understand all of creation. St Thomas Aquinas gives us a way out of this as he explains: “Any word may be used in two ways–that is to say, either in its original application or in its more extended meaning”. Creation as we understand it is different from the original act of creation. It’s like creation on the 2nd to 6th day – developing and building upon what’s present to make things better.

Thus we begin to understand creation on our terms, from our own experience. Here, we realise that nothing comes out of nothing and there has to be something present first. We need to use what’s there to make things better. There’s a sense of this sort of creation and development in the Gospel for today. A look at the movements in the Gospel shows recognition of the Lord, an urgency to meet him and get healed and the faith that undergirds all this,

Here, something does indeed come out of something. Sir Isaac Newton, in his Third Law of Motion, stated that for every action that an object makes, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Physics or the physical world around us is a good mirror to our interior lives as well. We can see how the actions and reactions in the Gospel show creation and development.

  1. It all begins with the presence of the Lord. Him being there with the people, landing his boat on the shores of Gennesaret. The reaction of the people was to want to be present too. To want to learn and to accompany the Lord just as they were accompanied.
  2. The presence of the people elicited a further action from the Lord as he began teaching, inspiring people and sparking a transformation in them. The reaction of the people could be seen in their increase of faith as they realised the possibilities that the teaching of the Lord brings about. They wanted to learn more and began to trust in Him.
  3. The faith and trust meant that the Lord could heal them as they believed in him. The healing started small but grew as the faith did. The reaction of the people was an increase of faith, a spreading of the word and more people coming to believe. The cycle then continues.

The beauty of the creation through the cycle of action and reaction reminds us of one thing: that God does not stop in his act of creation after his rest on the 7th day. God continues creating and does so as we speak. We’re invited to labour with the Lord in creation – to work alongside the Lord with faith and love to develop and create more faith and love in others. St Ignatius of Loyola reminds us of this in The Spiritual Exercises as he states that “God works and labours for me in all creatures upon the face of the earth, that is, He conducts Himself as one who labours. Thus in the heavens, the elements, the plants, the fruits, the cattle, etc., He gives being, conserves them, confers life and sensation, etc.”

Our invitation thus is to be creative – not just in creating works of art but in unfolding God’s love to others. If we see ourselves trying to labour with God – what can we not do? We’re invited to act on this love and to see the reaction and continue to do so in faith that our labouring will somehow be effective. We watch with joy the constant development of faith and love and see how lives become beautiful works of art that all can enjoy.

And so we pray:
Lord, be the beginning and end of all that we do and say. Prompt our actions with your grace, and complete them with your all-powerful help. Amen.


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about the brushhead

had a head like a brush (it's more like an egg now). seeks to sweep through thought and faith with that brush. tries to wax philosophical but often forgets to wax off. trying to be good brush to all, while discerning what kind of brush he's meant to be.

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