Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

God’s glory in nature, creation leads us to his presence in Mass

Published: March 7, 2020

By Jeff Hines
Trinity Junior High School

Jesus was a bird watcher. I get this from Matthew 6:26 where Jesus says, “Look at the birds …” Birds are a sign of God’s presence to me. It reminds me of a kayak trip last summer on Frog Bayou in western Arkansas. John Casey, our school counselor, invited me to join him and several others.

The water level was perfect for floating. It was beautiful. Immediately after pushing out from shore, a kingfisher flew out across the river and perched in a tree. I thought to myself, God, I see you. Later, a bald eagle swooped down from a branch toward the water and soared upward beyond the trees. It’s true — a bald eagle in Arkansas in June, what a sight! God, I see you.

In Mass, we encounter Christ in the Word and the Eucharist, and we take our place in his mystical body, the Church. He shares in our life and we share in his life. From there we go out and live our life, and he provides for us.

It would be easy to worship God in nature; to say, who needs church? I can worship God out here where his glory is revealed in creation. And it’s true, you can worship God in nature. Even St. Paul said the Romans’ downfall began with the fact that they did not acknowledge him in the beauty of creation (Romans 1:20). But it doesn’t end there.

To recognize God in nature is to begin a relationship with him. In fact, he is present in the normal things of daily life — the clouds, a breeze, a smile, a good meal, a beautiful song, a good book. God created all things. He upholds all things. My wife has a T-shirt that says, “Life is good.” It is true, life is good. Look around you.

St. Thomas Aquinas said all good comes from God. Bishop Robert Barron, in his “Catholicism” series and his many talks, picks up St. Thomas’ point when he says all truth, goodness and beauty are connected to God. We can see God in everyday events. When we recognize him, how do we respond? This is going to sound like a leap, but our response to his presence is to go to Mass.

To see that going to Mass is the right response, let’s follow Jesus’ logic. Jesus tells us to look at the birds and see that God takes care of them. Of the birds, Jesus says, “They do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Then Jesus turns the focus to us. He asks, “Are not you more important than they (the birds)?”

To answer Jesus’ question, we recall Genesis 1:26-28: God created humans, male and female, in his image. He gave them dominion over the birds, among other things. He blessed the man and woman, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply.” From this we can say, yes, we are more important than the birds. Then Jesus says, “Do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ … But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

When we go to Mass, we are doing just that: seeking the Kingdom of God. In Mass, we encounter Christ in the Word and the Eucharist, and we take our place in his mystical body, the Church. He shares in our life and we share in his life. From there we go out and live our life, and he provides for us.

Understanding Our Church

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