Scripture: Lectionary 329: Genesis 1:1-19. Psalm 104:1-2.5-220.127.116.11.35.
Beginnings are important and fascinating. This is true of each beginning of
a book, an epistle, or a historical narrative in the Bible. Today we start
anew with an often read part of the Scriptures, chapters one and two of
Genesis. Here we see the Providence of God over all of creation and
everything is good. That is an important point of view that Jews and
Christians should have about the world, the universe, and the people within
it. A positive attitude is fostered by the opening verses of Genesis and
we learn from the beginning that God is absolute goodness. We are to
erradicate any of the presuppostions we may have heard about God being a
God of wrath; a severe judge, etc. Older Catholics have a great hurdle to
break through on reading the Old Testament because of the faulty biblical
training they were exposed to. Now with the knowledge explosion we are able
to know so much more about the Bible and how to read it.
Bonum diffusivum sibi. The goodness in creation is diffusive of itself.
God is absolute generosity in the scenes that unfold before us in Genesis.
And the inspired writer is not unfamiliar with human traditions that went
before his inspired writing as we learn from a comparison with several
ancient epics written before Genesis.The skill of the divine author is his
ability to use these traditions and give us a theology of God’s creative
love and of our own tendency sometimes to waver and reject that love as we
will see in chapter three of Genesis.
We realize that the language is not technical language; it is the language
of the ancient Near East and a language of metaphors, symbols, and
primitive theology. It is God-language written in the language of the
persons of that time–seventh century before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Torah has taken this opening chapter from the priestly tradition which
centers on worship of God and reverence for the Sabbath. It is language
that extols the union of man and woman on equal terms: God created them in
God’s image and likeness, male and female he created them. These are among
the most sublime verses in the Bible and show us our human dignity and
equality since both male and female are made in the image and likeness of
God. Irenaeus, the ancient bishop of Lyons, realized this and said, “The
glory of God is humankind fully alive.” Vatican II, the latest ecumenical
council of the Church (1962-1965) also speaks of our dignity and beauty as
well as our call to holiness both in its document on the Church called
Lumen Gentium (Light for the Nations) and Gaudium and Spes (Joy and Hope)
in the pastoral application of the Council’s Constitution on the Church.
Genesis is part of the background for these more modern statements.
We are to respond daily to the gift of life God has given us and to thank
God for it. Our readings should challenge us to see the unity, beauty, and
goodness of God in the inspired beginning chapters of the Torah–God’s
teaching and revelation for all of us.
The Gospel of Mark shows us the compassion of Jesus for the crowds
therefore he feeds the hungry and heals those who are ill. He wants all to
enjoy the fullness of life as decreed in Genesis. We are to respond to
this message of God by allowing ourselves to become fully alive in
goodness, beauty, and truth. Peace which is brought about by unity among
us will be more readily achieved if we are attentive to the message of