Grace to you!
We continue our reflection centered on The Book of Genesis. Today I focus on one of the lines that are repeated at the end of many of creation stages. It is the statement that says: “God saw that …it was good.”
The declaration is repeated seven times in the story of creation (see Gn 1:4,10,12,18,21,25 and 31). Recall that in biblical stories, the number seven in symbolic. In many cases, it suggests completeness. The last occurrence (v 31) adds something that seems to summarize the work with a seal of divine approval, “very good.” “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gn 1:31).
It is fascinating to me to understand how God looks at the whole of creation. God’s “seeing” here is not to be understood as the vision of the physical eye as we rational creatures see. Rather, as one of the most renowned Jewish scripture scholars of the 21stcentury, Mattathias N. Sarna, says, it is about divine perception, a formula of divine approval of all creation (Sarna, 1989). It is a divine vision which reveals the way creation fits in the divine will.
As Sarna suggests, this shows that “reality is imbued with God’s goodness.” It is also a direct rejection of the view that creation is radically evil from the beginning (Sarna, 1989, Genesis, p. 7). This view of the fundamental goodness of creation is supported by many other biblical scholars, such as C. F. Keil, and F. Delitzsch (1996).
The church reminds us of this goodness of creation also. “Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "And God saw that it was good...very good"for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. On many occasions the Church has had to defend the goodness of creation, including that of the physical world.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 299).
I am edified by this understanding for many reasons. One is appreciating how God sees me and you and the rest of creation. Divine perception about us is delight and beauty. It is the seeing that is the glory which is a vision of the true nature of things as they reflect the glory of the living God.
I know for sure from the start, evil was never part of divine creation. As St. Augustine says, evil isn’t an existent being, but a lack of being. Most of the evils we see are moral. They are consequences of not being and choosing the real things as God has made them. Creation, the good creation of God, was completed before the wrong choice that led to the fall, Original Sin.
In Christ, the restoration of creation is established through his death and resurrection. Believers bond with this and live in this renewal that connects us to original righteousness through grace. This for me too is refreshing.
I know then that as a believer, I have to see the whole of creation as designed by the Creator with fundamental goodness having been willed by God. I treat everything, all of creation, with utmost care and proper stewardship. I love my neighbor and love my enemy, because not to love what God considers good is to put myself opposed to the will of the Creator. I treat nature in general with care because even though plants and animals may not be human, they still are part of the goodness of creation.
There is order, that is beauty, in creation because God the Creator is order par excellence. I see myself as called to be a missionary of this divine order in all that I do. Knowing that the best way to live in this order and to be a missionary of it is to listen to the Creator, obey His word and truly have faith in His plan for the whole of creation.
Such is the source of inner peace. Such is to live in the beauty of creation. Such is true harmony in my soul and in relation to the world around me.
Praying that in all we do, we see the goodness of the Lord in every creation. Amen.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 5: Gn 1:20-2:4; Mk 7:1-13]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.