RELIGION: Restoring the wonder and beauty of our humanity

Canon Gerry Conroy

For beauty and wonder, in nature there is little to be compared with trees. Their beginning from such little seeds only makes the wonder greater. Who could imagine the majesty that would grow from such a small seed? Yet it is by no means straightforward. The blossoming of a tree from the seed is by no means assured. There are all sort of things that need to happen if the seed is to grow into its full potential, all sorts of things that must be avoided. We are much better now at understanding the process of nature, what is necessary and what is helpful as well as what is threatening to the growth of these wonders of nature. How strange then that we are seemingly less in touch with what is necessary for our humanity to reach its full potential.

St Paul spoke of creation groaning in one great act of giving birth. He was referring to salvation being worked out and coming to its fullness and part of that was the restoration of our humanity and its fullness in our journey through life and finally fully in eternal life. Like the seed of a tree, God’s grace is restoring the wonder and beauty of our humanity. In the Gospel Christ uses that image of the seed being sown to speak to us about the same fullness that God’s word wants to bring about in us. We know what is necessary and what is helpful for our growth, but Christ also speaks of the obstacles that we must overcome if we are to know that fullness. The first reading assures us of the certainty of what is coming; the question is will be part of it, will we allow our humanity to reach its wondrous beauty and reflect the glory of God.

The Bible tells us of the beauty of what God has created, but in the story of Adam and Eve it also speaks of the obstacle we must overcome. It tells us how the old Adam set himself as a rival to God, and understood any glory given to God to be in competition, with the glory, Adam intended to reserve for himself.[1] All the sins we commit are according to the bible simply variations of this desire for glory, or as the Gospel puts it, we don’t want to be healed by God, we prefer to do our own thing because it is our own thing. We don’t want to see what is going on around us, we don’t what to hear the cries that are rising up to heaven because it might stop us pursuing our own interests. We don’t want to look at our world and see what is really wrong with it, because we might have to change our lives and we are too comfortable with them, or we are too preoccupied dealing with our worries and anxieties, dealing with the daily preoccupation of life and somehow that is more manageable for us than listening to what God has too say about it all. For some it might be we don’t like confrontation, so we stay out of the way of anything controversial, anything that might upset others, because we want a quiet life. The Gospel is prophetic of our society which in so many different ways has become inoculated against the Gospel. It’s as though our societies are not just indifferent, but immune to the Good News.

Society itself often becomes the way our growth is stunted, and hinders us achieving what we were created to be, hinders the seed taking root in us. Evil comes in many forms and disguises to prevent us being who God made us to be. Creation will one day fully reflect the glory of God. Hopefully we will be part of that reflection.

[1] Liturgical Dogmatics p167

The trees are beautiful in the hills around Dumbuck above Dumbarton where charity fund-raiser Petra McMillan is seen training for one of her Marie Curie events. Picture by Bill Heaney. Canon Gerry Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton, and St Peter’s, Bellsmyre.

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