Today’s post is going to be a little different than normal. Instead of going right to scripture I first wanted to introduce you to a book that I have found to be completely fascinating. I first listened to it as an audiobook that I borrowed from my local library. After listening to it three times I realized I needed to bring it to my small faith group, so I bought copies of it for all of us. Now I want to introduce you to it. If you can pick up a copy, or listen to the audiobook, I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s called Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel by Fr. John Riccardo.
I have heard the gospel many times at mass and I’ve read it on my own. Never before had I heard it told like Father John tells it in his book. It showed me another side of the gospel that I had never heard before and it gave me a completely different idea of exactly what Jesus did for all of us. Since this book has had such an impact on me I wanted to share a little of it with you. I’m not going to quote from it, and I’m going to do my best not to plagiarize, but you need to take a look at this, too. Hopefully I can do it in a way that makes sense without infringing on Father John’s work.
In a world where so many people have lost themselves and feel that there’s no hope we need to re-introduce them to Jesus who died so that they might have life. In order to do this, though, we need to start at the beginning.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”John 1:1-5 (NABRE)
Is that too lofty? Does it sound confusing? Are you still trying to figure out what is being said? I always have to read that passage through at least three times before I feel like I’ve got my arms halfway around it. Let’s simplify it a little more. In the beginning there was only God, but he was the Triune God (three-in-one) so Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there, too. They were just hanging out when one day God said to Jesus, “Hold my beer,” and he created Earth. What? You don’t think God was drinking? How do you explain the platypus and giraffe? Or the belly button?
Okay, so maybe God wasn’t drinking, but he did create the heavens and the earth. And it was good. Then he created the waters and the sky. And it was good. After that came dry earth and sea. And it was good. God thought that the earth needed a little color so he created plants and trees and flowers. And it was good. Then he realized we would need something to tell time by and help the seas ebb and flow, so he created the sun, moon and the stars. And they were all good. At this point God realized that he had a giant aquarium and terrarium, so he filled the seas and skies with creatures. And they were good. (Although, the penguins probably felt like they got a raw deal since they weren’t able to fly nor were they in a warm land.) Then God decided that there needed to be weird creatures like opossums and adorable fuzzy little kittens, so he made creatures for the land. And they were good. Then God made man. Man and woman were created in his image to have dominion over the lands, seas, skies and all living creatures. And they were good. As my priest likes to say, “God doesn’t make junk.”
But man wasn’t just another creature that God made, otherwise we would have been lumped into the group in Genesis 1:24. Instead, not only did he make us apart from the other creatures, but he also blew life into us (Genesis 2:7). The author of Genesis didn’t write down every single step that God took to make everything else, which means that these two facts are very important to our story. God could just bring things into being. Yet, he lovingly formed us and breathed life into us. Why? Because God LOVES us. After he created Adam and Eve he spent time with them in the Garden of Eden. Now, maybe he also spent time out on the plains playing with the deer and antelope, but we are specifically told of the time he spent with humans.
Think about a very important day of your life. When you tell somebody about this day do you tell them what time you woke up, what shampoo you used, or what television program you watched that day? Only if it’s important to the story and the overall picture of what happened, right? You talk about what is important and what made the day special, or what really stuck out to you. This is why we know that God creating man and woman is SO important to him. He wants us to know just how much we mean to him and how important we are in his plan. The first part of Genesis doesn’t name the planets or stars that he made, but it does name Man and Woman. Don’t get me wrong, God is very proud of everything he has made, but his pride and joy are humans.
Think about something that you are really good at doing or making. Maybe you make the BEST pies or perhaps you build the most comfortable furniture. Whatever it is, think about it and how proud you are whenever somebody tells you how great it is. Now, if you’re a parent this is going to be easier, but think about when a person holds their first child in their arms and looks down at that gorgeous face and those tiny little fingers. Can you feel the overwhelming love just pouring out of them as they gaze upon their child? THAT is how God looks on every one of us. You. Me. Your neighbor. Even that really weird looking guy who works with you. He doesn’t look on ALL of creation like that. Is he proud? Sure, but God loves us all as if we were his first born child. It is the only time that a parent can honestly claim to love all of their children equally. God doesn’t play favorites.
I have more that I want to say about God and his creation, but I think I’ve gone on for long enough. Next time I’ll do a little more with Creation. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Father John Riccardo’s book. It is amazing.