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BEFORE THE CROSS | Jesus restores the order of creation

Throughout the coming week, the daily readings prompt us to reflect on the order God has written into the world through creation and the covenant, what happens when we turn away from that order, and how Jesus came to restore it.

We start the week with the first creation account, from Genesis 1 — a magnificent vision of the order of the world. God speaks 10 times; He notes the goodness of the world seven times and He gives His blessing three times. According to the Jewish tradition, the 10 words of creation look forward to the 10 words of covenant that God will give Moses on Mount Sinai (the 10 Commandments). And the catechism notes that, in the Sermon on the Mount, "the same Word of God, that had resounded on Mount Sinai to give the written law to Moses, made itself heard anew on the Mount of the Beatitudes" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 581). The logic of creation and the logic of the covenant are intimately linked in the Bible.

We also hear the second creation account, from Genesis 2 Simpler in language, it gives an intimate picture of the relationship between man and woman and the relationship between God and humankind. In fact, this account is the first time God says that something isn't good: "It is not good for the man to be alone." Genesis 2 shows a beautiful link between the logic of creation and the logic of relationships.

And then, the Fall. Adam and Eve turn away from the order of creation and the covenant. Their relationships with God, with each other, and with the created world suffer great harm. That's the legacy they hand us: a mixture of light and shadow, bearing traces of God's magnificent order and the history of sin. Our daily headlines reflect that twofold heritage.

Against that background, the Gospel passages show Jesus restoring the order of creation in multiple episodes in which He restores the sick to health. Jesus restores the order of the covenant as He challenges the Pharisees about their traditions, and teaches the people that what comes out of their heart (not what goes into their stomach) is what defiles them. When Jesus restores the order of creation from a fallen physical condition, it's a sign of what happens to our spiritual health when we return to the covenant from a state of sin.

The week ends with the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed the four thousand. This episode simultaneously signifies three things. 1) A restoration of the original condition of the Garden of Eden, in which man didn't have to work for food because it was simply given in abundance. 2) A continuation of the miracle of the manna — a central event in the forging of the covenant — in which the people received their daily bread as a free gift from heaven. 3) A foreshadowing of the future Messianic banquet in which Christ not only will give us food, but He Himself will be the true bread from heaven. Creation, covenant and ultimate fulfillment are tied together in this one event.

The central theme of the week offers us both a realistic and a hopeful approach to headlines about chaos in the natural world, the moral world and the political world. These headlines are contemporary signs of what happens when we turn our backs on the order of creation and the covenant. But the Bible is full of such stories. It hardly surprises us when they're repeated today.

What hope do we bring to these headlines? Only the hope that the Gospels hold out. Beginning with ourselves, we can let Jesus into our lives. When we do, He begins to restore the order of creation and the covenant in us. But as He does so, He also asks us to suffer with Him, to help extend the invitation to others.

At the end of this week, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. It's a good time to bring all sickness — physical, spiritual, cultural, political and so on — to Jesus through Mary for healing. 

RELATED ARTICLE(S):FRENTE A LA CRUZ | Jesús restablece el orden de la creación

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