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.
For 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?
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The translation of today’s first reading that we hear at Mass begins “all men were by nature foolish”; perhaps more timeless words have not been written. It continues, “who were in ignorance of God”. We are surrounded by beauty, opportunity and reasons for gratitude. And yet, we make gods of other things. The ancients revered powerful aspects of nature as gods. Today there are many among us who raise other things into a faux religion.
Carl Jung reflected that we Christians have trouble finding God because we do not look low enough. This means that we can appreciate the works of God in the grand tapestry of nature, but perhaps even better we can find God, and the good in life, in the appreciation of small and everyday things. In the modern world of amazing plenty, we seem surrounded by angry voices claiming what they have is not enough, and especially that someone else unfairly has more. How much better to be grateful for what we have and value all we have been given, and the opportunities to make the most of our short time here.
Good and gracious God, we praise you and we thank you for all of your creation that points us toward you. May we always recognize that all that we have is a gift from you, so that we may in turn use it for your greater glory. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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