Covenant, creation and 'the shelter of our souls'

Can nature be more rarified than in a rainbow? Earth donates water droplets. Sunlight supplies the rest. A rainbow is the most ethereal element of God’s creation. Small wonder it was chosen to be the sign of God’s covenant. In the presence of water, light is reflected, refracted, dispersed. Water is transfigured into something radiant.

The rainbow becomes an Old Testament sacrament: God’s providence and promise imprinted upon the material world. God will never again rise against creation.  

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I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth (Gen 9:9-13).

 

A covenant is a promise. It can only be made between those who are free. God is freedom itself. God is giving; God simply is. And humanity? Because God endows us with freedom, we are that part of creation that can enter into covenant with God. All of creation fulfills God’s will, but we alone choose whether or not to do so.

Creation comes without seams. The spirit and the flesh of our person both issue forth from God. One is not less sacred than the other. In the human, the material world becomes sentient, responsive and responsible. We are nature in love with its creator.

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now (Rom 8:19-23).

 

Just as Catholicism is the most sacramental of faiths, believing—in our creation, and preeminently in the Incarnation of the Son of God—that the material becomes the womb of the spiritual, it should also be foremost in defense of the environment.

When the modern mind declared its independence, it severed its ties to God, to nature, even to other persons. Each became something measured by the mind, rather than reverenced by the heart. The world became an instrument, a hammer in our hands, rather than the shelter of our souls.

In Christ, creation again becomes whole. The despoilment of sin gives way to the delight of union.

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him (Mk 1: 12-13).

 

In Christ, human freedom rejects the autonomy of the individual and embraces creation. Satan suffers, while angels and beasts find common cause in the creator now come as savior.

Lent opens us to the resurrection of Christ, and the eventual glorification of the cosmos. In fasting, prayer and charity we return to the font, where water is quickened with grace. The material is not supplanted; it is suffused with spirit.

This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
It is not a removal of dirt from the body
but an appeal to God for a clear conscience,
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pt 3: 21).

 

This Lent might we not abstain from abusing the environment? Might we not pray for an awakening of the sacred in the material? Might we not actively begin to repair in love what sin has despoiled?

In the rainbow, God is pledged. Let it ever remind us to respond.

Genesis 9: 8-15  1 Peter 3: 18-22 Mark 1: 12-15

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Bruce Snowden
3 years 7 months ago
Thank you, Father Klein. Clearly inspired and profoundly inspiring! It soars to heavenly heights as it trudges the rugged edges of materiality, its poetry elegant, for me an environmental smack on the head, softly awakening inner objectivity in paradoxes of green bowed in color - just wonderful! Going to save this piece as a refresher course on how to live. Just loved it!

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