Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our Ultimate Goal
We begin reading from the Book of Genesis today. It’s opening verses may be so familiar that we miss their meaning. Genesis is a faith statement that the world was created; it is not about how the world was created. The Catholic church reminds us that
The world was created for the glory of God who wished to show forth and communicate his goodness, truth and beauty. The ultimate end of creation is that God, in Christ, might be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28) for his glory and for our happiness./1/Today we hear Genesis narrate God’s creating desire bring into existence the inanimate beings. Tomorrow we will hear Genesis continue with the creation of animate beings, including us.
Psalm 104, the responsorial, turns our attention to creation. In poetic fashion its imagery is more vivid than Genesis, and even more powerful because it's addressed to God:
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory, robed in light as with a cloak.
This recognition of God communicates, in poor human words, that God imparted something like the divine being from the beginning. Everything bears traces of God’s “goodness, truth and beauty.”
It is fitting to recall St. Agatha in this light of creation because she became a new creation by her martyrdom.
Tradition remembers that Agatha prayed when she was arrested, “Jesus Christ, Lord of all things! You see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am—you alone.” And in prison: “Lord, my creator, you have protected me since I was in the cradle. You have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Now receive my spirit.”/2/
To return ourselves to our Creator freely--in both life and death--is both to glorify God and our greatest happiness.
/1/ The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #53.
/2/ We only know for certain that Agatha was martyred during the Decian persecution in the 3d Century. The Roman church inserted her name in its Eucharistic prayer, with roots in the 4th and 5th Centuries.
Photo by Michael Haesel, who put it under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License.