Friday November 17, 2017 – Be Prepared to Meet the Creator

When my kids were young we would go on family trips a couple of times per year. Most of the time we would take them to a state park or state forest. Camping and hiking were big parts of our vacations. My wife and I love the outdoors and we spent the first few years of our marriage living in a rural area of Pennsylvania, a state in the eastern United States. We are captivated by the mountains and forests. Especially around the fall season when the leaves began to change. We thought of these areas as truly “God’s Country”.

As we traveled about and marveled at the scenery, inevitably we would resurrect a debate we often had about the beauty that surrounded us. What made something pretty or beautiful? When looking at a stream, or crimson leaves or a mountain lake why did these things evoke a sense of wonder. The discussion was whether these feelings were innate in our DNA or were they actually something you learned as you went through life and assimilated as those around you expressed their thoughts of awe and wonder.

Regardless of what side you stood on in our debate, it was clear to all of us that God must have been having a good day when he created the natural beauty that surrounded us. These wonders serve as an indicator, as a sign, of the kingdom of God. It is a reflection of who God is…a way to get an early look into the eyes of the Creator.

This view is very different, however, than those who look at the very same beauty and treat the streams, mountains and lakes as gods. To worship the creation and not the creator. Very much like the idolaters referred to in today’s first reading from Wisdom. Idol worship is not just treating a bronze or golden likeness as a deity. As the writer of Wisdom makes clear, worship of fire, wind, rain and the stars carries the same penchant for paganism as did the Hebrews worshiping the golden calf in the desert at Mount Sinai.

As the Psalmist says today, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God”. The heavens themselves are not the glory. They reflect the glory. No more than admiration of a Monet painting should overshadow the painter himself. The created work is not greater than the creator him/herself.

As my wife and I were making our Camino pilgrimage this past summer we met up with a lot of young people and the conversation often got to belief in God, as we experienced the beauty of Northern Spain. The vast majority felt compelled to communicate that they were not really religious but were more “spiritual” in that they felt close to nature and the natural world around them. They were, in a sense, behaving as the pagans did in Jesus’ time. Allowing the natural world itself to become the center and not the hand that formed it.  The danger, of course, is that when the creation becomes the focus God drifts away and Satan takes his place.

St. Ignatius gave us 4 ways to view creation and how to tell if we are having the right attitude towards that which we admire:

1. That created things are there for us to come to a discovery of God and our salvation.
2. That we ought to freely use these things of creation insofar as they lead us to God.
3. That we ought to freely avoid the use of these things insofar as they lead us away from God.
4. And, finally, that there is wisdom in the freedom to know the difference between the use and the avoidance of the world of God’s creation.

And Luke tells us in today’s Gospel to keep our eyes on the prize. On living a life that stays centered on our lives as they will be in heaven and not so focused on this life, this creation, that we lose ultimate union with the Creator himself. He who attempts to preserve their life here on earth will lose their eternal life in heaven. But he who loses his life, who sees this life as just a temporary stop on the road to our eternity, will gain everything in the end.

And as has been the theme over the last week or so, we must always be prepared for we know not when the Son of Man will return. Even Scar from the Lion King knows the value of being ready as he sings to the Hyenas, “Be Prepared”! And that “A shining new era is tip toeing nearer”. When we look face to face with the Artist and no longer have to settle for merely the reflection.

About the Author

Hello! My name is John Ciribassi. I live in Carol Stream, IL in the USA. My wife Elise and I are parishioners at Corpus Christ Catholic Church. We have two adult daughters. One lives in Washington DC and the other attends Cornell University in New York state. My wife and I are both veterinarians, and my specialty is in animal behavior. I attended college and veterinary school in Illinois, where I met my wife who is from the Chicago area, and the rest is history! My hobbies include Racquetball, Off Road Motorcycle Riding, Hiking and Camping. I have never written reflections before and look forward to the opportunity to offer what little insight I have on the scriptures. But I have always felt that the scriptures can speak for themselves. My job is just to shine a little light on them for people who maybe don’t have the time to look into the readings deeply. I hope you enjoy and find value in my writings. I certainly am grateful for the opportunity.

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11 Comments

  1. Pretty simple but I get it when I look out in my back garden at the trees clouds ,birds floating on warm air currents yes I know he is there ,here .who else could perform this mix of beauty. .blessings ken

  2. Sometimes when I look at the great cloud formations and beautiful sunsets I can’t help but sing how great is our God. God Bless John.

  3. Amen…. like St Ignatius 4 ways to view the creation and how to tell what kind of attitude we are having towards the creation so as to avoid holding the creation above the creator…..thank you for that revelation on the ‘spirituality ‘ attached to to nature and the natural world around us.

  4. I totally appreciate the wisdom of the writer and that is from God. Each time I behold the beauty of God’s creation, it serves as a strong pointer to how Glorious, Awesome, Marvellous, Supreme etc. God our Creator is!
    To that effect, I keep basking in the euphoria of God dynamism through His wonderful creation.
    @ John Criribassi, sir, I can’t wait to take a different view of the unique scenery of God’s creation outside Nigeria.
    Innocent Duru, From Nigeria. 07013316704. Thanks

  5. Thank you Sir for this reflection. With all the natural scenery in their exquisite state, I wonder how people don’t realise that a Supreme being put all things in place. I pray that they come to fully worship and revere the one true God, creator of heaven and earth.

  6. Hello John.

    The first paragraph of your reflection reminds me of another potent reflection written by a colleague of yours a while back. The setting for that one, was Lake Michigan (I think), not rural Pennsylvania. He/she described the scenery when the sun set as a “God moment” ,which is kind of similar to your description of : “We thought of these areas as truly “God’s Country”.

    I am really enthusiastic about exploring the beaty of nature as a way of getting closer to God and I thank you so much for the caution you added about being sure to direct the praise to the Creator, not the creation.

    Yesterday, I believe I had a “God moment” while taking a walk. The stunning foliage-filled scenery caused me to turn off the music I was listening to and absorb the landscape with all its serenity. Then I saw an insect that seemed to be a cross-between a moth and a butterfly. I usually differentiate them by the former having its wings horizontal when at rest and the latter folding up its wings vertically when stationary. This one had wings in both planes (which made it kind of look like an F-14 fighter jet).

    Once again, thank you for the powerful reflection.

    God bless

  7. Hey Dr John,

    Your reflection seems to gloss over the gloomy picture that is being painted. Today’s Gospel is not a “feel good” reading.

    That being said, the last verse, verse 37, is especially dark. Maybe that would be a good reflection for another day?

    Mark

  8. Thanks John for your wonderful reflection on the creation and the creator and how we should differentiate the creator and the creation so that the glory should go to the creator and not the creation

    God bless you John for your great job. Thanks

  9. Good morning John, thank you for your reflection! Experiencing Gods creation of nature
    Is truly an overload of the senses. Then factor in the mechanics of how say a tree thrives and you know it just cannot be evolution. Botanist believe that when it gets colder some trees trigger a hormone that creates a thin bumpy layer of cells between the twigs and every leaf . This then gently push the leaves off the twings allowing them to fall and allowing the tree to get down to bear minimals and survive the cold. Every thing on this. planet is created with this kind of detail…and even more. Let us be in awe of our creator our Dear God. Give thanks for sharing this with us and Pray we honor him and only him always.

  10. Hello John: Have you ever seen a murmuration? This phenomenon is a stunning display of God’s marvelous creation. If you haven’t seen one in person, you might want to check it out on you tube.

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