St Isaac the Syrian - an Orthodox mystic of the seventh century, who wrote about the positive link that exists between spiritual peace and the created order.
The readings this Sunday are focussed on creation and our call to be good stewards of the world that God created.
Our Lord attested to the beauty and intricacy of the world that God has created and oversees to the finest detail (Matt 10:29-30). Christians of every denomination over the last two thousand years have echoed Jesus’ deep respect for nature and seen it, as he did, as a realm created by God to which human beings have a special duty of care. Mystics and theologians across the centuries have proclaimed nature (both the outside world and ourselves) as windows, icons or sacraments through which we encounter God. They have also alerted us to the reality that our relationship with God has a major bearing on the way we value nature and treat it – either for good or ill. By striving first for the Kingdom of God, as Jesus bids us do in this morning’s Gospel (Matt 6:33), human beings become more attuned to nature, working with natural processes, rather than against them. The quotes that follow are a very small sample of what Christian thinkers have said over the last two thousand years about creation.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Cistercian monk, writer and mystic said, “One of the most important — and most neglected — elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendour that is all around us.”
Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) wrote in 1990 that “[w]hen man turns his back on the Creator's plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order. If man is not at peace with God, then earth itself cannot be at peace: "Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, and even the fish of the sea are taken away" (Hosea 4:3).”
More than a thousand years earlier, a British monk, St Guthlac (673-714) is reported to have declared that “[t]oo often we lose dominion over the creation which is subject to us precisely because we neglect to serve the Lord of all creation, as it is written, "If you be willing, and will harken unto me, you shall eat the good things of the land," and so forth (Isaiah 1:19).”
Finally, St Isaac the Syrian (born about 640AD), wrote about the positive link that exists between spiritual peace - which comes when we look inward to the Kingdom of God that is to be found there (see Luke 17:21) - and the created order: “Be at peace with your soul; then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the kingdom is hidden within your soul. Flee from sin, dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the stairs by which to ascend."
For the sermon preached this Sunday, please go to the sermon page.