By Derick Cranston
Before we can nurture beauty, we must first be nurtured by beauty. Before we can love, we must first be loved. We are creatures incapable of doing anything in isolation. Our life is a result of our parents’ lives, our parents’ lives a result of their parents’ lives, and so on.
We are the result of a God-given process that started with what we can only refer to as – for lack of a better term – the “Big Bang.” This set in motion everything in the universe and is responsible for all that the universe contains. Everything we have is a gift from our Creator. God empties himself into creation, and creation returns to God.
In the Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis we find that in giving we receive, and in dying we are born to eternal life. Brian Swimme in his book, “The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos,” makes the observation that the sun at the center of our solar system is dying. He writes, “The Sun, each second, transforms four million tons of itself into light. Each second a huge chunk of the Sun vanishes into radiant energy.” This light and energy makes life on Earth possible. “The Sun converts itself into a flow of energy that photosynthesis changes into plants that are consumed by animals. So for four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun’s energy stored in the form of wheat and maize.”
The Sun dies and is resurrected in the life of the Earth. In dying on the cross, Jesus the Son, is resurrected and has released the energy of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s bodily death is nourishment for the salvation of all. We receive this nourishment through the Eucharist and the other sacraments. Christ’s atonement on the cross is a gift of finest wheat. We are invited to feast at the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lord, for he has filled the hungry with good things and has sent the rich away empty. Christ has sanctified what earth has given and human hands have made, honey from the rock.
We are part of a process that has unfolded throughout infinite eons. Though we are formed by this process, we are not determined by it. We have been endowed with consciousness and freewill. It is now up to us to add our voices to the music of God’s creation and choose to be in harmony with the melody of the universe. We live this out through love of one another. Love is the energy that Jesus released on that fateful Friday afternoon on Calvary. We are nourished by the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice, and are able to see and nourish the beauty of those around us. We are loved by Christ, which gives us the ability to love.
When we love we become light for others, but that love is not ours to keep. Just as the Sun transforms itself into radiant light and energy to feed the Earth, we must feed others with our unconditional love. There are many who need to be fed, and much darkness to overcome. When we look at the night sky, the stars of heaven appear as tiny pinpricks against a vast blanket of darkness. But the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. The light has penetrated the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it.
(Derick Cranston is youth minister for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He is going through diaconate formation and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)