January 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 21

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    Today, we bring you the words from His Holiness Pope John Paul II for his Weekly General Papal Audience of 2000 at Paul VI Hall on January 26th where His Holiness focuses on creation and the cooperation of all toward that reality for without God, all else is void of anything. The Holy Father points out through Scriptural references that from the breath of God comes the Spirit that balances all creation so that their is cohesiveness in the universe. When we cooperate with this intent such as preserving nature, it becomes a partner with humanity as God intended. The full English text was translated and provided by ZENIT news agency, article ZE00012625.

The void is only fulfilled through the Creator

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

1. "How desirable are all His works, and how sparkling they are to see! ... He has made nothing incomplete... Who could ever tire of seeing His glory? ... We could say more but could never say enough; let the final word be: 'He is the all.' Where can we find the strength to praise Him? For He is greater than all His works" (Sirach 42: 22, 24-25; 43:27-28).

    With these words full of awe, the biblical sage Sirach places himself before the splendor of creation, weaving the praises of God. It is a little piece of the thread of contemplation and meditation that runs throughout Sacred Scripture, beginning with the first lines of Genesis, when in the silence of nothingness creation blossoms, summoned by the effective Word of the Creator.

    "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gen 1:3). In this part of the first creation story we already see the action of the Word of God, of which John will say: "In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God... All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being" (John 1:1-3). Paul will confirm in the hymn of his Letter to the Colossians that "for in Him (Christ) all things in Heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations or rulers or powers -- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:16-17). But in the first moment of creation we also find concealed the Spirit: "the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2). The glory of the Trinity, we can say with the Christian tradition, shines throughout creation.

2. In fact, it is possible, in light of Revelation, to view the creative act as first of all appropriated to the "Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). He shines across the entire horizon, as the Psalmist sings: "O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the Heavens" (Ps 8:1). By God, "the world is firmly established; it shall never be moved" (Ps 96:10). The Creator sets Himself over the void, figured symbolically by the chaotic waters that raise their voice; He gives them consistency and security: "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord!" (Ps 93:3-4).

3. In Sacred Scripture creation is also often tied to the divine Word that breaks forth into action: "By the word of the Lord the Heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth... He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm... He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly" (Ps 33:6-9; 147:15). In Old Testament wisdom literature it is divine Wisdom personified in Whom the cosmos originates, and Who carries out the project of God's mind (cf Prov 8:22-31). It was said that John and Paul in the Word and in God's Wisdom would see the announcement of the work of Christ "through Whom are all things and through Whom we exist" (1 Cor 8:6), because it is "through whom He (God) also created the worlds" (Heb 1:2).

4. Lastly, in other places Scripture highlights the role of the Spirit of God in the creative act: "When You send forth Your spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth" (Ps 104:30). This same Spirit is symbolically figured in the breath of God's mouth. It gives life and consciousness to man (cf Gen 2:7) and brings him back to life in the resurrection, as the prophet Ezekiel announced in a suggestive text, where the Spirit is at work bringing back to life the bones now dry (cf 37:1-14). The same breath controls the sea's waters in Israel's exodus from Egypt (cf Ex 15:8-10). The Spirit still regenerates the human creature, as Jesus will say in His nocturnal dialogue with Nicodemus: "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Jn 3:5-6).

5. Faced with the glory of the Trinity in creation, we must contemplate, sing, and rediscover awe. Contemporary society has become dry, "not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder" (G.K. Chesterton). Contemplation of the universe also means, for the believer, listening to a message, hearing a paradoxical and silent voice, as the "Psalm of the Sun" suggests: "The Heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world" (Ps 19:2-4).

    Nature therefore becomes a Gospel that speaks to us of God: "For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5). Paul teaches us that "Ever since the creation of the world His (God's) eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made" (Rom 1:20). But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in creation, must also lead us also to rediscover our fraternity with the earth, to which we have been linked since creation (cf Gen 2:7). This very goal was foreshadowed by the Old Testament in the Hebrew Jubilee, when the earth rested and man gathered what the land spontaneously offered (cf Lv 25:11-12). If nature is not violated and humiliated, it returns to being the sister of humanity.


January 31, 2000
volume 11, no. 21

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