Meditation for Monday of the 4th Week of Lent


First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-13
Gospel: John 4:43-54
 

There are ways in which the material world seems to be pure evil, from the destructive nature of weapons and the lure of wealth, but even in things that at first don’t appear evil, such as the beauty of nature.  Even in nature, we can become deluded to believing that all the material world is made for evil – from diseases in nature, organisms that rot and scavenge off the dead, as well as parasites that feed off the living.  Even further, the "good" things in nature are even temptations to evil, in that they become possible sources of idolotry, as in nature worship, such as Wicca.

However, when we meditate on today’s readings we see that God is doing something new.  He is turning the evil material world around – He is reversing death and prolonging life in His "new heaven and new earth".  But how is He doing this?  The stock answer is "in Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the new Creation."  But what does this mean?  Does it mean that Jesus will come back eventually and obliterate everything that has ever been made?  Seems a little harsh, but in a sense, eventually that will happen.  The sun only has fuel for another 2-4 billion years, and is predicted to the explode in a supernova that will either completely consume the earth, or otherwise destroy it by extreme heat followed by extreme cold when the sun becomes a white dwarf.

But Jesus is making His new Creation in more subtle ways right now – He is doing it through us.  When we act in faith, the good works God has planned for the world are done by us.  Since his time, life spans have increased through better medicine, newborn mortality rates have become almost negligible, and the style and quality of life during that expanded time has become such that we have invented new terms like "disposable income" and "luxury time". 

But, you might say, this only applies to us – what about the entire material world in general?  Well, part of our responsibility as newly redeemed sons of God is to take back our place as stewards of this world and all that’s in it – this was the task set before Adam & Eve, even before The Fall.  Since we have been brought back, by Christ, to our Pre-Fall state, we have to take up our Pre-Fall responsibility to "tend the garden".  "For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God" (Romans 8:19). 

The material world was not created to be evil – it was created and found to be good.  We, in our fallen state, made it evil and used (or rather, abused) it in an evil manner.  The material world is waiting for us to be the good sons of God that we were supposed to be from the beginning.  The first and foremost way of transforming nature in the new heaven and new earth is by making it holy through the sacraments – outward, physical signs of inner, spiritual graces.  The clearest sign of this transformation is the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Eucharist.  It is not merely changing the form of one thing into another, like making steel into a girder or a piece of modern art – the form/appearance has changed, but the underlying substance is still an alloy of iron and other metals.  Rather, it is the changing of the underlying substance altogether!  What was once there is gone, although it appears the same.  This is the New Creation, and God does it, but He does it through the work of human hands, specifically the consecrated hands of a priest or bishop.

How is God asking you to change His world?

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