SEPTEMBER 6, 2011 – TUESDAY OF 23RD WEEK: COL l2:6-15; LUKE 6:12-19

 

NATURE IS COMMONLY TERMED MOTHER NATURE.  In the Latin language the word natura is feminine, so that even the very masculine Romans thought of nature as gentle, kindly, and mild in her ways.  These days, however, we in this country are given evidence that even mothers can display another kind of character on occasion.  Sudden death, wide destruction of property, loss of homes and valuables resulted from the hurricane last week in New York State, and this week an even fiercer tornado has been damaging Louisiana.  Mothers, like nature itself, exercise in the normal course of life, quietly exert a strong influence on their children; when that influence is not mild, quietly operative without calling attention to itself, the child develops a facility for trust and friendly love; but when it is disordered for one reason or another, the effect is harmful and at times disastrous.

 

The more we reflect on our physical universe and the more attentive our examination of human relations, whether emotional and personal, or social and economic or political, the greater the evidence that in this world of time, good and wholesome as are many elements, yet everything seems to have a potential for disorder and destructiveness.  There is an ambiguity lurking in all things and all human affairs. To succeed in business or in politics, for instance, regularly exposes one to fresh temptations that a man has not previously had to overcome. I recall a conversation I had some time ago with a gentleman engaged in the national political world, who had just completed his first year in that office. I asked him if he had learned anything from his recent experience. “One thing I definitely learned”, he answered, “is that much of what passes for virtue is just lack of opportunity!” Increased power and success in general, expand the possibility for doing good, but also exposes one to selfish greed, dishonestly, and vain pride. Such is this world of time, not just in our days, but, as history makes clear, has always placed people in situations where success involves regularly stronger temptations than painful failure.

 

There is, however, another world that we all given access to, as St. Paul tells us in the first reading today, if we enter wholeheartedly on the way he speaks of. He puts things in these terms: “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon and established in the faith as you were taught.”  He warns that this way is threatened by “the empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world.” Thus he depicts the doctrine of the two ways open to life on earth. They already belong, in a certain way, as St. John makes clear in his Gospel, to two distinct worlds. By faith in Jesus that we live by, we begin a process of transformation that is effected, even now, in our daily strivings. The meaning of life is transposed. Such a life of active, prayerful dedication in faith changes the essence of our very existence. All we are and do assume a meaning that comes from the world of Eternity where God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit themselves assure significance of a kind that transcends all in this world.

 

This activity of God that eventuates in the new creation is well suggested by a name assigned to Him that I saw for the first time this past week. Nonnus, a Catholic author writing in Greek in the 5th century, calls Him: biodotor (life-giver). He not only shows the way to the true life in the person of his Incarnate Son, but bestows it in some measure even now. This is what we thank Him for in our Eucharist at this altar. As we receive, with lively faith, the risen Body of Christ our Savior, may we be strengthened in loving trust so as to prove worthy children of that heavenly city where Himself is our light and life. &


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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