Monday, February 6, 2017

February 7, 2017 L O Lord, our God, how wonderful Your name in all the earth!

February 7, 2017
Tuesday, Week Five, Year I
Genesis 1:20 to 2:4; Psalm 8; Mark 7:1-13.

O Lord, our God, 
how wonderful Your name in all the earth!

The main point of Genesis 1:20 to 2:4 is that humans are different from all the rest of creation.

God created the earth, the sea and the sky; and within their boundaries the plants, fish and animals, each to act as it was designed to act, according to its nature. And each time he created something, “God saw how good it was.”

Then he created something better: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”

So God created humankind in his image, in the divine image he created them; male and female he created them.

We may have missed a “hidden meaning” here. In the cultures whose campfire stories influenced those of the Jews’ ancestors until God came with his own, women were not considered equal to men. They were chattel to capture and use. But in God’s story God created men and women at the same time and alike: “in the divine image... male and female he created them.” This is a story that challenges assumptions, attitudes and practices; perhaps some of our own!

There is more. God defined the relationship between humans and the rest of his creatures. Humans are in charge — and responsible; “Let them have dominion over... all the living things that move on the earth.”

Dominion is given in a context of fertility. To the fish and birds he said, “Be fertile, multiply.” To the humans created in his likeness he said, “Be fertile and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion.”

Dominion is for the sake of life, not death. Each time God created something, he “saw how good it was.” He wants humans, made in his likeness, to likewise see how good all his creatures are and preserve them. Humans can use the plants and animals:

I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree... you shall have them for food.... and to everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.

But with this comes responsibility for protecting the environment and preserving the order of creation for the well-being of all. In the Mass, Preface V for Sundays echoes Genesis:

You chose to create humans in your own likeness, setting us over the whole world in all its wonder. You made us the stewards of creation, to praise you day by day for the marvels of your wisdom and power.

An important part of our stewardship is praise. Only humans can ask about the origin of what they see. Only the rational can recognize and relate to intelligible design, or admire the splendor of its beauty. Only those who are authentically human can say:

It was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.[i]

This response is closed to animals, and agnostics — to animals because they cannot reason, to agnostics because they will not follow reason to its logical conclusions. They cannot praise, because praise implies admiration of someone’s purposeful creation. In the absence of a Creator they are left with a dead-end world. Reading God’s word helps us appreciate the privilege of being able to say, O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth

Meditation: What does praise add to life? How often do I praise God, others?

[i] Psalm 139.

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