Monday, August 01, 2005

Stones Cry Out

Creation tends to worship God in its own way, and it finds it quite easy, because its sheer existence is a song of praise to the Lord. Aside from the birds, and similar creatures that might rightly be said literally to sing unto the Lord, creation needs a mouthpiece. Even the singing creatures need the assistance of rational souls to send the song explicitly to the Creator. That would be us.

For all their grandeur, the mountains, the oceans, the stars, the flowers and trees, still need a human voice to direct their homage heavenward. That’s one reason God created us. We are the cantors of creation; we direct the cosmic worship: “Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars… you mountains and all you hills, you fruit trees and all you cedars… Praise the name of the Lord, for He alone is exalted…” (Psalm 148:3,9,13). The three young men in the Babylonian furnace knew their job well: “Every shower and dew, bless the Lord… all you winds, bless the Lord… ice and snow, bless the Lord… lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord… everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above all forever” (see Daniel 3:52-90).

I wonder, though, if we know our task as well. All creation seems to be impatiently waiting for us to give it voice, to send its joy to God in canticles of thanksgiving and praise. The Lord hinted at this in a brief exchange during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The disciples of Christ were singing and dancing like David before the Ark. When the envious and indignant Pharisees could stomach it no more, they said to Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” Jesus’ response, so simple and genuine, reverberates like holy thunder down through the ages: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:39-40). Perhaps there are such pregnant moments in human history, that if we fail in our vocation as the mouthpiece of the cosmos, creation itself will be empowered to utter explicit hosannas to the King. But woe to us if the stones must cry out because we have kept silent!

We have to realize that we do not live only for ourselves, and that we are a part of something much greater than ourselves. We are made of the same stuff as the stars and the mountains, yet we have been ennobled with immortal souls; we are created in the image of God. So we are the priests of creation; we stand at the forefront of the cosmos, offering worship and thanksgiving to God in the name of all that is and was and will be. This is one reason that we gather together in church, why we pray and meditate, why we have been given bodily and spiritual senses to perceive the presence of God in all He has made. And Christ’s incredible gift to us is that He takes a bit of his creation that we offer Him (bread and wine), transforms and gives it back to us as Himself, as his body and blood. We give Him creation’s praise, and He deifies creation and makes it our spiritual food, so that we creatures can experience an ineffable and undreamed-of union with the Creator, in a leap of faith that crosses the cosmos and secures us in the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity, source of all creative power, wisdom, and love.

So don’t wait for the stones to cry out. Bless the Lord, praise and exalt Him above all forever! All creation will thank you for it.