15 November 2013. Friday of the Thirty Second Week
Wis 13:1ff. The beauty of created things can lead us to their maker.
Lk 17:26ff. The Son of Man comes suddenly. Be prepared.
First Reading: Wisdom 13:1-9
For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if people were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is the one who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him. While they live among his works, they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful. Yet again, not even they are to be excused; for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
Gospel: Luke 17:26-37
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them – it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He aid to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Distracted from God
Oddly, it can happen that God’s good gifts distract us from God. Because natural things are so good, they can become a substitute for God and stifle any desire to think about life beyond this world or about the God invisibly present beneath this good world of ours. Much closer to home, once the good meal is on the table, we seldom remember to thank the cook. Parents who lavish toys and gifts on their children are quickly and easily taken for granted. Yet Wisdom puts it very plainly: For from the greatness and the beauty of created things, their original author, by analogy, is seen.
This raises a number of important questions for the agnostic and atheist as well as for the religious person. Wisdom states, “They are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.” For religious people even certain habits of prayer and worship can be an obstacle to really drawing close to God, if the rubrics of worship become more important than the One to whom we pray. Similarly, parents can be so concerned about the impression their children give to the neighbours, that fear of shame becomes more important than love for children.
Clear guidance on such matters is given in the gospel. The Son of Man will break through all our face-saving devices and false concerns. Jesus makes the statement, difficult indeed, yet found in all four Gospels that “Whoever tries to spare their life, will lose it; whoever seems to forfeit it, will keep it.”
While living enthusiastically in the present, we must look behind the veil of signs to see the Creator. While loving one another, we need to be rooted in the love of Jesus, to deepen our capacity for loving. If we forget God, our love will become shallow and self-serving; and such love does not last. It seems as if only if we share with others, will God entrust us with eternal life; and to hold on to life we must find it with Jesus, who enables us to truly love one another.