Summary: By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and the natural moral law.
Monday of 33rd Week in Course
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” This is one of what the Egyptian hermits used to call “javelin prayers” that the Church has held dear from the beginning. The story we hear in today’s Gospel, which originated in the encounter between Jesus and the blind man, as the Lord journeyed to Jerusalem, is also the story of every one of us. I recognize my spiritual blindness, my ontological weakness. I realize that I am mired in a swamp, or drowning in an ocean of sin, and I yell for help to the One who can walk on the waves, to the One who is the Rock of hope. He turns to me in gentleness and love and asks “what do you want me to do for you?” The cynical onlooker would say, “You’re kidding. He’s obviously blind, Lord.” But Jesus, God’s word, needs to hear the word that publically affirms the man’s knowledge of his condition, that in front of God and everyone acknowledges the gift of faith welling up within him. “Lord, that I may see!” And at that word, the Word acknowledges the gift of faith, and gives the gift of sight. That, I submit, is what has happened, and continues to happen, to each of us as we come to Mass. We confess our weakness and sinfulness and Jesus heals us by Word and Sacrament.
The Word is the Word of God, Jesus Christ, and the more we listen to this word, and are “led by the biblical revelation,” the more we see that the Word is the “foundation of all reality.” “The Prologue of Saint John says of the divine Logos, that ‘all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made’ (Jn 1:3); and in the Letter to the Colossians it is said of Christ, ‘the first-born of all creation’ (1:15), that ‘all things were created through him and for him.’”
This understanding is “a word of freedom.” “Scripture tells us that everything that exists does not exist by chance but is willed by God and part of his plan, at whose center is the invitation to partake, in Christ, in the divine life. Creation is born of the Logos and indelibly bears the mark of the creative Reason which orders and directs it; with joy-filled certainty the psalms sing: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.’”
St. Bonaventure taught that all the possibilities of creation are present in the Word of God, the Logos. The Vatican Council taught, summing this up, that “God, who creates and conserves all things by his word (cf. Jn 1:3), provides constant evidence of himself in created realities”
Now secular philosophies, which are far from the Christian understanding of “love of wisdom,” teach that all creation evolved from nothing by pure chance. But this is nonsense, literally, “anti-logical.” It is outside our experience to believe that anything can evolve from nothing. The Holy Father goes on: “Reality, then is born of the word, as creatura Verbi, and everything is called to serve the word. Creation is the setting in which the entire history of the love between God and his creation develops; hence human salvation is the reason underlying everything. Contemplating the cosmos from the perspective of salvation history, we come to realize the unique and singular position occupied by man in creation: ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them’ (Gen 1:27). This enables us to acknowledge fully the precious gifts received from the Creator: the value of our body, the gift of reason, freedom and conscience.”
What the Holy Father says next is best understood in opposition to the secular view. Secular society is at least amoral, and often antinomian. The secularist wants, beyond anything, to do whatever pleases him. The notion that there is a law that binds everyone on earth is repugnant, because it keeps him from killing, raping and plundering when he wants to. But that, too, is anti-logical. As the International Theological Commission said in 2009, “every human being who comes to consciousness and to responsibility has the experience of an inner call to do good.” Do good and avoid evil is the first tenet of the natural law, and anyone who denies that is, frankly, showing either his ignorance or his corruption. “Listening to the word of God leads us first and foremost to value the need to live in accordance with this law “written on human hearts” (cf. Rom 2:15; 7:23). Jesus Christ then gives mankind the new law, the law of the Gospel, which takes up and eminently fulfils the natural law, setting us free from the law of sin, as a result of which, as Saint Paul says, “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it” (Rom 7:18). It likewise enables men and women, through grace, to share in the divine life and to overcome their selfishness.“
Quotes are from Verbum Domini