In these days of climate emergency, species extinction and habitat destruction, it is salutary to find Paul’s vision is not just global but galactic!
Isaiah’s vision embraces the whole earth. God’s word goes out to all and influences everything. It is not confined to Israel or the chosen people. It knows no boundaries. The same universal theme is taken up in Psalm 64: “You care for the earth”. It would be a contradiction in terms to set limits to the goodness of God. Despite this, we constantly seek to limit or constrict the universal vision which Isaiah witnesses to here. God’s spirit of bounty is a cause for all to shout for joy.
Paul in Romans has his poetic take: ‘The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons…The entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth.’ Freedom is not just for humanity but for humanity grounded in, and an integral part of, the whole created universe. It is not that we do not understand Paul’s inclusive vision – but we fail to apply it to our own dealings with “the other” – all those outside our clan, group, nation, religion or church. We do not apply it to the whole of creation – which was Paul’s focus. We somehow are not alert to the way we are invited to apply this message. We have allowed ourselves to restrict our vision to exclude all who are not part of our ‘sort’. So original inclusivity has been replaced by our own inherited exclusivity. We must remove the scales from our eyes in practical ways and ‘put feet on’ our theory so that we emerge from our comfort zones and bring our vision to join all those who are possessed by it. ‘Teach me Lord to recognise and embrace the unexpected ways you choose to renew my life.’ Unexpected ways – the ways lived by those not of our group, Church, congregation, religion, tribe, family. It is remarkable also that Paul’s vision extends to the whole of creation. In these days of climate emergency, species extinction, habitat destruction and all that is described in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, it is salutary to find we can go back to Paul’s vision – not global but galactic! And heed his remarkable emphasis – creation as one great act of giving birth!
Matthew has Jesus first address the whole crowd – but in parables. Only then does he say that there are those who hear the Word of God and those who do not. Divine encounter is always offered to all – but we must choose to take part in it.