“God saw how good it was.”
This has been the refrain in the first reading these last couple of days. We are reflecting on the story of creation from Genesis, a story with which we are very familiar. But we don’t want a familiar story to become old. We also don’t want to get caught up in this story with issues it does not intend. People get very caught up in the evolutionism – creationism debate and base their hypotheses on the information given in the Genesis story of creation. It’s important that we realize that the Catholic Church doesn’t teach that this story, or any similar story in the Bible, should ever be taken literally, so it doesn’t offer support for any theory of how things began. Instead our Church sees that, although this story is largely mythological, there is some very important truth in it, and that truth is the refrain, “God saw how good it was.”
God, who is goodness itself, created the world and everything in it to be a reflection of himself, a reflection of God’s goodness. The goodness of all of creation is the basis of Catholic social teaching, which is one of the most unique teachings our Church offers, a teaching that is, I believe, one of the greatest gifts we offer everyone in the world. This belief in the goodness of all creation means that we Catholics should take very seriously the efforts to preserve and care for our environment. We care for our environment because it is God’s great gift to us, a gift that reminds us of how good God is. Who among us has been to a beautiful natural area like the Grand Canyon or even seen a wonderful sunset and not thought about God’s goodness? In moments like that, we see creation through God’s eyes, we see how good it was, and still is.
In the document, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, the US Bishops speak of the care that we owe to God’s creation: “On a planet conflicted over environmental issues, the Catholic tradition insists that we show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.”
Caring for the environment seems like it can be a monumental task. But if each of us were to reverence creation as the Scriptures teach us, there wouldn’t be environmental issues at all. We might not be able to make a huge impact on the environment all on our own, but we can do one or two things in just our daily living that, gathered together with the efforts of each one of us, can truly make a difference. As we offer back the gifts of creation to become Christ’s Body and Blood, we can all reflect on simple things we can do, or do better, to celebrate God’s creation. May we all look on everything God created and see how good it is.
[I didn’t preach on St. Paul Miki and Companions, today’s saints, but here’s a link to American Catholic’s article about them.]