,God beckons us to himself. At the heart of Christian faith is our belief that through Jesus Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, we have been redeemed by God. If we accept his redemption, that is, if we believe in Jesus Christ, we will live forever in God’s presence. In the Eucharist, we respond to God’s beckoning call. Every time we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, “we experience in ourselves the fruits of God’s redemption.” Collect, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
God beckons all creation
God is the source of all things, and their destiny as well. In Eucharistic Prayer III, we hear the priest offer our praise to God:
[Y]ou give life to all things and make them holy,
and you never cease to gather a people to yourself ….
Stated another way, “Everything … issues from God’s heart, passes through time, and through death returns to that heart.” Leonardo Boff, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor (Orbis 1997), p. 85. Can this be so? We know from the first chapter of Genesis that God created all things. But does everything return to God? Does God beckon all creation to himself? Saint Paul tells us that he does:
[T]he whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. It was not for its own purposes that creation had frustration imposed on it, but for the purposes of him who imposed it — with the intention that the whole creation itself might be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God.
Rm 8: 19-21 (NJB). Thus, not only does God beckon all creation, but we are his agents in doing so.
We are accountable to God for creation
In creating man and woman, God made us “masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.” Gn 1: 26b (NJB). But he does not intend us to be harsh and arbitrary masters. Instead, we are to emulate Jesus, the good shepherd: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Jn 10: 11 (NJB).
Masters of creation, but servants of God
We are masters of creation, but we are servants of God. We are accountable to God for our stewardship of what he has entrusted to us. Like the servants entrusted with five talents, if we are trustworthy in our duties, we will be invited to join in God’s happiness. But if we are lazy and wicked with our charge, we will be cast “into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Mt 25: 14-30 (NJB).
An accounting before God
In making our accounting to God, we will be measured by the greatest commandments: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. You must love your neighbour as yourself.” Mt 22: 37b, 39b. Do we show love for our neighbor when we are in too much of a hurry to feed the hungry, or too distracted to notice the homeless, or too afraid to stand up for the oppressed? If we do not help our neighbor, who is, like us, made in the image of God, do we show love for God?
As for God’s non-human creation, is it any different? If we pollute the air, leading to millions of premature deaths every year, do we show love for our neighbor? Do we show love for God? If we replace tropical rainforests with large industrial and agricultural projects, dispersing indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands, do we show love for our neighbor? Do we show love for God? If we burn nonrenewable carbon-based energy resources, altering the planet’s climate at a rate never before seen, do we show love for our neighbor? Do we show love for God? Or do we instead merely claim a narcissistic and self-defeating love for ourselves?
We need to respond to God’s beckoning call
God beckons us to participate in his eternal life. The Eucharist is our opportunity to remember God’s redemptive action, to express our joy and thanksgiving, and to embrace God. As we do so, we need to live up to God’s call that we love him, our neighbors and all creation.