Is there intelligent life on any other planets in our vast universe? Could the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Logos, even as I write these words, be creating, redeeming other parts of God’s galaxies?
Who knows? Theologians speculate but we just do not have answers.
But what we do believe with faith’s certainty is that Jesus of Nazareth is planet Earth’s Redeemer. We should also never forget that, as the Word of God, he is also the Creator, the one ‘through whom all things were made’.
These days, people are very aware of ecology. A healthy spirituality in these times of environmental and economic upheaval will, therefore, be steeped in a renewed awareness of both aspects of Christ.
As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI put it in a talk he gave to priests and deacons in 2008:
The Redeemer is the Creator; and if we do not proclaim God in his total grandeur, as Creator and Redeemer, then we also debase Redemption. If God has nothing to do with Creation, when he is present only in some part of history, then how can he encompass our life? How can he bring healing to man in his wholeness and to the world in its totality?
It is he, the Creator himself, who entered into history and can still enter into history and act in it, because he is the God of the whole and not just of a part.
We know from Genesis that everything God makes is holy and is good. There is a sacramental aspect to creation: it is a constant, living sign of God’s presence and love, and therefore a source of countless graces. ‘Grace is everywhere.’
That is perhaps why many theologians speak of our need for a recovery of ‘everyday mysticism’; for it is based on awe, wonder, mystery, a sense of the sacred, gratitude, and reverence. Karl Rahner SJ went so far as to claim that the Christian of the future will be a mystic, or there will be no Christians at all!
In our Sunday Creed, through the mystical ‘eyes of faith’, we recognise Christ as the Word, ‘through whom all things were made’.
Every creature, every part of creation, is a word spoken by the Word, and therefore to be treated with great care and respect. Saints like St Francis of Assisi have called us to this awareness continually.
In his inauguration homily as Pope, our Holy Father Francis reiterated this: ‘It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us, and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. … In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!’
As Catholics, we are used to being encouraged to see and protect the face of Christ in every person we meet. Pope Francis (as did his predecessor, Benedict) encourages us to remember a complementary part of our Tradition—in which we see the face of Christ not only in people, but in everything.
CHRIST IN THE UNIVERSE
With this ambiguous earth
His dealings have been told us. These abide:
The signal to a maid, the human birth,
The lesson, and the young Man crucified.
But not a star of all
The innumerable host of stars has heard
How He administered this terrestrial ball.
Our race have kept their Lord’s entrusted Word.
Of His earth-visiting feet
None knows the secret, cherished, perilous,
The terrible, shamefast, frightened, whispered, sweet,
Heart-shattering secret of His way with us.
No planet knows that this
Our wayside planet, carrying land and wave,
Love and life multiplied, and pain and bliss,
Bears, as chief treasure, one forsaken grave.
Nor, in our little day,
May His devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way
Or His bestowals there be manifest.
But in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.
O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The myriad forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.
– Alice Meynell (1847-1922)
This article is part of a series of reflections entitled ‘I Believe…Help My Unbelief’: Meditations on the Creed by Br Mark O’Connor FMS.
Br Mark O’Connor FMS is the Vicar for Communications in the Diocese of Parramatta.