CHRIST ABOVE AND IN CREATION
Jesus berates the religious leaders of his time for failing to produce fruit at the proper time for the “owner of the vineyard”, his heavenly Father. Jesus angrily concludes his words by telling them that they will be dispossessed of the vineyard and it will be given to a people who will produce its fruit.
It is not difficult to apply this parable to humanity in its stewardship of creation. Those who exploit it with avarice and arrogance will be dispossessed, whereas those who humbly treat creation as a precious gift will inherit it. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
One of the meekest men who walked the earth was Francis of Assisi, il “poverello”, the “little poor one.” After his conversion from avarice and arrogance, his mystical insight led him to see Christ in all things and all things in Christ. His vision teaches us that Christ is not like some celestial puppet-master, above the world and its dealings, manipulating it for who knows what purpose. Francis, in his own simple and clear perception, understood the sublime words of St. Paul: “all things were created in Christ; he is before all things; and all things hold together in him.”
Christ, of course, must not be identified with creation as if creation were Christ. That would be the idolatry of pantheism (everything is God). Rather, creation is mystically united with Christ in a very real way, and he is united most especially and most intimately with that dimension of creation which is the human race. Christ’s power holds creation in existence and it is subject to his command. So while creation is somehow united to him, Christ himself is above creation, transcends it, like the human mind is above and transcends the body even as it guides its every movement.
Francis was never in danger of idolising creation because his heart was so immersed in Christ, the Creator. What he understood was that creation can only be healed, respected, treasured if we humans are likewise united with Christ. By the blood of his Cross, Jesus reconciled humanity with God, but he also reconciled “all things” in himself. The crowning proof of Francis’ grasp that consummate love of creation is only possible as the fruit of love for Christ was the stigmata. Jesus was telling him, and all of us through him, that sharing in his sacrificial death, following him along the Way of the Cross, in selfless love, is the key to the healing of man and of the world, the fruit the Father wants.