“Where there is love, there is life.”
Today is my youngest sister’s 50th birthday. (Many happy years, Margaret!) Today is a good day to reflect on this thing we call life. We have been given natural life. Our planet, Earth, this third rock from our star, the Sun, is uniquely placed to allow natural life to exist and to thrive. The atmosphere contains gasses which not only protect us from ultraviolet radiation, but also retain the heat necessary to warm Earth’s surface. Water vapor creates rain. Oxygen allows us to breathe. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use chlorophyll to change sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and organic compounds we call food.
In this cycle, we indeed see that light is life. The last two days we had a tremendous dome of blue sky here in western Pennsylvania. Even though we know the color comes from a scattering of the light rays from the Sun, some of us find it hard to believe the awesomeness of creation happens by random chance. Every single evening at Vespers (the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts during Lent), we chant Psalm 103 (104) in praise of God the Creator and recount the gifts of His creation in the natural world. We have been given supernatural life as well. As we live our natural life on earth, we also live our new life by virtue of our Baptism. We profess Jesus Christ, Who came into His creation and also lived a natural life.
Through the Paschal Mystery of His Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection, we have been restored to the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life. In the Transfiguration, He revealed in Himself the Uncreated Light of Mount Tabor, and He also said of Himself: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In Him, we indeed see that light is life.
When we study prehistory and history, we find that mankind has always looked for the source and meaning of life. This is as true in our own day as before. Even though we seem to know so much more about how things are put together and how they work; even though we can manipulate creation by making sophisticated tools and by fixing broken parts of our bodies; even though we can travel into space and back, we still search for answers to the fundamental question - why do we exist? At times we seem to know the answer.
We not only exist, but also thrive. We create and pro-create. We fill the earth and subdue it. We have dominion over creation. However, we also fail individually and on the various levels of society. There is still inflicted pain, injustice, unkindness, exclusion, hate, war, jealousy, and people who are disenfranchised, alone, poor, neglected, or abused.
Perhaps the more difficult question is - why does evil and its consequences still exist? For sake of argument, and for our own Lenten pursuit, we can reflect on our own life. Even if we are closer to one hundred than to fifty, we can recognize the good in our natural life and share the fruits of our supernatural life.
How do I treat God’s creation - people and things?
How do I put into practice the light that is in my life? Or do I?
Think about it. Try it.
We are already at the end of week two.
The author is a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.