How does God create things

BENEDICT XVI.

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Auditorium Paolo VI
Wednesday February 6, 2013

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I believe in God: the Creator of heaven, earth and man

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Creed, which begins with God being referred to as "the Father Almighty" - we pondered this last week - then adds that He is "the Creator of heaven and earth" and thus takes hold of them Statement that the Bible begins with. For in the first verse of the Holy Scriptures we can read: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth" (gene 1,1): God is the origin of all things, and in the beauty of creation his omnipotence unfolds as a loving Father.

God reveals himself as Father in creation insofar as he is the origin of life, and in creation he shows his omnipotence. The images used by the Holy Scriptures in this context are very impressive (cf. Isa 40,12; 45,18; 48,13; Ps 104,2.5; 135,7; Spr 8,27– 29; Job 38-39). As a good and mighty Father, he cares for what he has created with undying love and fidelity, as it is repeatedly said in the Psalms (cf. Ps 57.11; 108.5; 36.6). Creation thus becomes the place where one can recognize and acknowledge the omnipotence of the Lord and his goodness, and it becomes an appeal to the faith of us believers to proclaim God as Creator. The author of the Hebrews writes: "On the basis of faith we know that the world was created by God's word and that the visible arose out of the invisible" (11: 3). Faith therefore presupposes the ability to recognize the invisible and to discover its trace in the visible world. The believer can read the great book of nature and understand its language (cf. Ps 19,2-5); However, the word of revelation is needed, which awakens faith so that man can come to full awareness of the reality of God as Creator and Father. In the book of Scripture, in the light of faith, the human mind can find the key to understanding the world. The first chapter of the book occupies a special place genesis one, with the solemn proclamation of the divine work of creation, which extends over seven days: In six days God completes creation, and on the seventh day, the Sabbath, he ends all work and rests: day of freedom for all, day of communion with God. And so, with this picture, the book shows us genesisthat God's first thought was to find a love that corresponds to his love. The second thought is then to create a material world into which he can place this love, these creatures that answer him in freedom. The consequence of this structure is that the text is divided by a few significant repetitions. For example, the sentence is repeated six times: "God saw that it was good" (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) to conclude the seventh time, after the creation of man, "God saw everything what he had done: it was very good ”(v. 31). Everything that God creates is beautiful and good, imbued with wisdom and love; God's creative work brings order, introduces harmony, gives beauty. From the report of genesis it also emerges that the Lord creates through his word: ten times in the text is the expression: "God spoke" (vv. 3, 6, 9, 1, 4, 20, 26, 28, 29). The word, the "logos" of God, is the origin of the reality of the world, and when it says: "God spoke" - "so it happened", it emphasizes the power of the divine word. Thus says the psalmist: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were created, all their host by the breath of his mouth… For the Lord spoke, and immediately it was done; he commanded and everything was there ”(33: 6.9). Life arises, the world exists because everything obeys the divine word.

But today we ask ourselves the question: In the age of science and technology, does it still make sense to talk about creation? How are the stories of the genesis to understand? The Bible does not want to be a science textbook; rather, it wants to help understand the real and deep truth of things. The basic truth that the narratives of the genesis Revealing to us is that the world is not a totality of opposing forces, but that it has its origin and its stability in the "Logos", in God's eternal reason, which continues to support the universe. There is a plan for the world that arises from this reason, from the creative spirit. Believing that this underlies everything illuminates every aspect of existence and gives courage to accept the adventure of life with confidence and hope. So Scripture tells us that the origin of being, of the world, our origin is not irrational and necessity, but reason and love and freedom. Hence the alternative: either the priority of the irrational, of necessity, or the priority of reason, freedom, love. We believe the latter is true.

However, I would also like to say a word about him who is the crown of all creation: about man and woman, man. He is the only one who is "able to know and love his Creator" (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 12). The psalmist looks at the sky and asks himself: "Do I see the sky, the work of your fingers, moon and stars, which you fasten: what is man that you think of him, child of man that you care for him?" (8.4-5). The human being, whom God created out of love, is tiny before the infinity of the universe; sometimes we too were fascinated by the enormous expanse of the firmament and perceived our limitations. This contradiction is inherent in human beings: our smallness and our transience coexist with the greatness of what God's eternal love willed for us.

The creation accounts in the book genesis also introduce us to this mysterious realm and help us to see God's plan for man. First of all, they say that God formed man out of the dust of the earth (cf. gene 2.7). That means that we are not God, that we did not make ourselves, that we are earth; but it also means that we come from the good earth by the work of the good Creator. In addition, there is another fundamental reality: all human beings are dust, across all distinctions made by culture and history, across all social differences; we are one human race, formed from the one earth of God. Then there is a second element: Man comes into being because God blows the breath of life into the body formed from earth (cf. gene 2.7). Man is created in God's image, like him (cf. gene 1.26-27). So we all have God's breath of life in us, and every human life - this is what the Bible tells us - is under God's special protection. This is the deeper reason for the inviolability of human dignity against any temptation to evaluate the person according to criteria of usefulness and power. God's image, to be like him, also means that man is not closed in himself, but has an essential point of reference in God.

In the first chapters of the book genesis we find two telling images: the garden with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the snake (cf. 2.15–17; 3.1–5). The garden tells us that the reality in which God has placed man is not a wild jungle, but a place that protects, nourishes and sustains; and man must not regard the world as property that he can plunder and exploit, but he must regard it as a gift from the Creator, as a sign of his will to salvation, as a gift that he should cultivate and protect, that he should grow respectfully and harmoniously must allow itself to develop, according to its rhythms and logic and according to God's plan (cf. gene 2.8-15). The serpent, in turn, is a figure that comes from the oriental fertility cults that fascinated Israel and represented a constant temptation to leave the mysterious covenant with God. In this light, Scripture presents the temptation Adam and Eve experienced as the core of temptation and sin. For what does the serpent say? She does not deny God, but asks an insidious question: "Did God really say: You must not eat from any tree in the garden?" (gene 3.1). In this way the snake arouses the suspicion that the covenant with God is, as it were, a captivating bond that robs people of freedom and the most beautiful and precious things in life. The temptation arises to create the world in which one wants to live oneself, not to accept the limits of being a creature, the limits of good and evil, of morality; dependence on God's creative love is seen as a burden from which one must free oneself. That is always the core of the temptation.

However, if one falsifies one's relationship with God by lying in his place, all other relationships are distorted. The other then becomes a rival, a threat: when Adam gave in to temptation, he immediately accuses Eve (cf. gene 3.12); the two hide from the face of the God with whom they spoke in friendship (cf. 3: 8-10); the world is no longer the garden in which one can live harmoniously, but a place that one can exploit and in which ambushes lurk (cf. 3: 14-19); Envy and hatred of the other enter the heart of man: a clear example is Cain killing his brother Abel (cf. 4: 3-9). When man turns against his Creator, man is actually turning against himself, denying his origin and thus his truth; and evil comes into the world with its agonizing chain of pain and death. And so what God had created was good, even very good, but after this free human decision to lie against the truth, evil comes into the world.

I would like to emphasize one final lesson in the accounts of creation: Sin creates sin, and all the sins of history are interrelated. This aspect prompts us to speak of what is called "original sin." What does this reality mean, which is difficult to understand? I just want to point out a few elements. Above all we have to consider that no one is closed in on himself, no one can only live out of himself and for himself; we receive life from the other, not just at the moment of birth, but every day. Man is relationship: I am only myself in you and through the you, in the love relationship with the you of God and with the you of others. So sin is the disturbance or destruction of the relationship with God; that is its essence: to destroy the relationship with God, to destroy the basic relationship, to take the place of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: In the first sin "man preferred himself to God and thereby disregarded God: he chose himself against God, against the requirements of his own creature and thus against his own good" (No. 398).

If the basic relationship is disturbed, the other poles of the relationship are also damaged or destroyed, sin spoils the relationship, and so it spoils everything, for we are relationship. If the relational structure of mankind is disturbed from the beginning, then every person comes into a world that is marked by this disturbance of the relationship, then every person comes into a world that is disturbed by the sin that shapes him personally; original sin attacks and wounds human nature (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404-406). And man alone, one alone cannot get out of this situation, cannot redeem himself; only the Creator can restore proper relationships. Only when God, from whom we have distanced ourselves, comes to us and extends his hand lovingly, can the right relationships be re-established. This happens in Jesus Christ, who goes exactly the opposite way as Adam, as the hymn in the second chapter of Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians describes (2.5–11): While Adam does not recognize his being a creature and wants to take the place of God, Jesus, the Son of God, stands in a perfect sonship with the Father, empties himself, becomes like a slave, treads the path of Love, humiliates oneself to death on the cross in order to restore order to relationships with God. The cross of Christ thus becomes the new tree of life.

Dear brothers and sisters, to live by faith means to recognize God's greatness and to accept our smallness, our creatureliness, by allowing the Lord to fill them with his love and thus our true greatness to grow. Evil, with all its pain and suffering, is a mystery enlightened by the light of faith that gives us the certainty of being liberated: the certainty that it is good to be human.

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I warmly greet all the brothers and sisters in the German language, today especially the group of the seminars in Eisenstadt, Vienna and St. Pölten with Auxiliary Bishop Anton Leichtfried. I am glad that you are here! In the Word of God and in the sacraments, let us be drawn to Christ's love anew, with which he wants to lead us back into communion with the Creator and with our neighbor. The Lord grant you inner growth and his guidance on all your ways. Thanks.

  

 

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