Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
As God did with Job, over the course of this week, the Church invites us to consider the foundations of the earth. Perhaps through this, we might come to some sense of wonder at the grandeur of God’s work in and for each one of us and thereby let our restless souls be quieted. We cannot, however, set upon this task without recognizing that many Christians have become embarrassed by the book of Genesis, even to the point that they ignore or perhaps reject the wisdom that it contains. Yet the Church has never ceased to proclaim the fundamental truths of the faith that come to us from this book, truths to which Jesus himself makes reference in the Gospels and which John Paul II builds upon in the catecheses commonly known as “the theology of the body.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI) offers principles for a properly Catholic understanding of Genesis in his book In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of Creation and the Fall. Our reflections over the coming days will take for granted the perspective that he proposes: we do not read Genesis as if it were a scientific text, but rather recognize the even more fundamental truths that it contains as our spiritual meta-narrative.
Today, we hear much of what is known as Genesis’ “first creation story.” God exhibits a certain delight as he creates: in the narrative, we hear over and again that God judges his work to be good. We would do well to rest in this realization and realize just how radical it is. When we look around us or even within ourselves, we find that things are not as they ought to be, that injustice is everywhere, and we may begin to wonder why this is so. Could it be that God made a mistake when he created the world, or even that the world itself was a mistake? Over and against these fears and doubts, today’s readings forcefully affirm the original goodness of God’s creation. The Psalm invites us to join in the lightness of God’s creation by affirming the grandeur of his handiwork and even by blessing him with the words, “May the Lord be glad in his works!” The Lord is glad indeed in his creation, but he delights to fulfill this prayer for and in us. So let us know the pleasure that the Lord takes in these words he offers us as we pray them back to him: “may the Lord be glad in his works!”