Season of Creation Reflection: Fr Damian Howard SJ
In 2020 there is no task more urgent for Christians than to understand that we are creatures – and to take action accordingly.
Living as a creature means knowing you are dependent on a Creator. Which is not obvious if you have been taught all along that you are your own creator. We used to talk about someone being a “self-made millionaire”; these days we are told we can be entirely self-made, reinventing ourselves from scratch. But creatures don’t decide who they are, what they look like or what kinds of character they have. Creatures are what they are. Some of us spend a good deal of our lives coming to terms with ourselves. But the endpoint of every creaturely life is gratitude, a deep sense that everything has been gift.
Living as a creature means rejoicing in your thorough-going embeddedness in the vast network that is creation. Take a look at your hands. Think of the billions of years it took to make them possible. Every atom in them was once contained in a star like our sun. As it burned away, it generated the elements needed to form a living body, before it burned out, collapsing into dust. Think of the DNA which organises all of that matter inside you, how it connects you to every living being on the planet. Think of the culture, the language and identity you owe to previous generations, and to the human communities which have brought you into being. To know yourself a creature is to love being part of the history of an amazing planet, to have a place to call home in the cosmos.
Living as a creature means knowing that you bear the mark of the invisible Creator. ‘Before’ creation there was nothing; there is only the Creator Who can have shaped all that there is. Faith knows that the Creator’s fingerprints are to be found on every creature, though it can take a lifetime of contemplation to see them for yourself. Christians have before their eyes Jesus Christ, the image of the unseen God Who reveals the inalienable dignity that flows from being a creature made in the image of the Creator.
Dependence. Connection. Dignity. There are the pillars of creaturely living. There is nothing more countercultural than being a happy creature.
Fr Damian Howard’s SJ biography link