On Tuesday 4th October we reach the end of the Season of Creation, so this is the fifth and last Sunday in that season.
Science tells us that the human body is made up of elements which all come from the stars. Every element in our DNA is to be found in the aftermath of exploding stars. Everything about our physical human nature is linked with the whole of nature. We are part of an immense mosaic in which every part depends on the other for good or for ill.
This astonishingly beautiful order of things is the work of the Creator, of the one of whom we say: I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. What’s more, St. Paul tells us that all things were created by the Father in the only-begotten Son. The Son is like the great canvass within which all creation was created. St. Paul says that: “All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” So, this vast expanding universe, this earth on which we live, is held in existence by Christ and it exists in Christ.
As if this truth weren’t spectacular enough, this same Son of God became a part of His own creation. He took flesh from the Virgin. And He did it because we, his prize creation, had sought to withdraw ourselves from God, in the decision we call original sin, a decision which would have led to the destruction of creation as well as our own. As Adam had said no to God’s will in the flesh, Christ came in the flesh to say yes to that will. It was a yes which first led to death. But His was not a death resulting from sin. Rather it was a death to sin, a death which destroyed death itself, a death which ended in resurrection and not destruction. It was also a yes with which any human being could associate him/herself by the personal yes of faith in Christ. Christ’s was a yes which would reverse creation’s fall back into nothingness to give it the hope of sharing in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
The resurrection of Jesus in the flesh now means that the whole of creation does not just have its natural existence in the Son of God, but that, in some glorious way beyond our ken, it is destined to share in the life of the Risen Christ himself. But it will only achieve that together with all those human beings who have lived and died accepting Christ, knowingly or unknowingly. This union of humanity and creation in the Risen Lord is sometimes called the Cosmic Christ, the one who inebriates His creation with the power and love of His Holy Spirit. You and I are called to share in this sublime goal. Creation is not a meaningless and chaotic reality. Our lives are not random or chance happenstance. Creation and humanity have a goal, a goal of such sublimity and splendour that we can hardly begin to imagine it. That goal is the communion of the whole of creation with the Blessed Trinity in and through the Risen Body of Jesus Christ.
And if all this seems unbelievable or far removed from our daily experience, listen to the Prayer we will hear after Holy Communion today:
Grant us, almighty God,
that we may be refreshed (inebriated) and nourished
by the Sacrament which we have received,
so as to be transformed into what we consume.
Through Christ our Lord.
In this prayer, we ask the Father to nourish and “inebriate” or “saturate” us by the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We are nourished by the Eucharistic bread and “inebriated” by the Eucharistic wine. But the prayer then surprises us. Normally the food and drink we take is transformed into us, becomes part of our body. With the Eucharist, however, it’s the other way around. As the prayer puts it, we are asking God through the Eucharist to transform us into what we consume. Just as the Lord changes the bread into his body, through the Eucharist he transforms us into himself. We become one Body, one Spirit with Him. The Eucharist is the Cosmic Christ drawing all to and into Himself.
This means that through the Eucharist all the elements of the stars which make up our DNA themselves are gradually transformed into Christ. Even though our bodies in death return to just being elements of the earth, they will be raised up by the power of the Risen Lord in a way known only to Him, just as once He created all things from nothing. And on that day, the transformation begun on this earth through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and also through the other ways in which God mysteriously draws people to himself, will be fully made manifest.
So, the ultimate reason why we must take care of creation is not simply for this or that inner-worldly purpose. It is far more because through us and with us creation is destined to be transformed through union with the Risen Christ. Reception of Holy Communion is therefore something far more vast and sublime than a private and personal encounter with Jesus, wonderful though that is. It is to become ever more willingly part of the Blessed Trinity’s plan to bring humanity and creation to share definitively in the eternal life of God. In the Eucharist the Cosmic Christ gives us a cosmic mission to go forth and help him draw all things to himself.