The sliver of a moon was brilliant before dawn this morning, with Venus shining just below. I pointed it out to my kids in the car as we left the driveway. It was dark and they were sleepy, but the view left an impression. Our Mass reading from Romans today has strong words for people who don’t see God in creation. Paul says that it’s as if they’re not looking, and they’re asleep in the light.
No excuse in Paul
In Romans 1, Paul says, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.” God’s revelation in creation is so clear that Paul says anyone who claims to not know God has no excuse (v. 20).
This is why people are culpable when they “exchange the truth of God for a lie” and “worship the creature rather than the creator” (v. 25). These are sobering words, as they give great authority to the conscience. We might think that Paul is giving a charge to pagans, but he’s actually addressing the people of God who no longer look at their creator.
Willfully blind in the Gospel
Today’s Gospel takes this a step further, when Jesus points out the willful blindness of the Pharisees. In Luke 11, Jesus is exasperated when a Pharisee questions him for skipping the ceremonial washing before the meal. This washing, by the way, wasn’t one of the laws given through Moses, but a rule added by religious leaders. It wasn’t a bad rule in itself, but the problem was that it got in the way of worshipping God. Man’s rule took the place of God’s command of love so that they were worshipping the creature rather than the creator.
Open eyes in our lives
The same thing can happen when we put our own priorities and routines before God. It can be subtle and self-deceiving. How can we keep our eyes on God’s glory and not exchange the truth for a lie? Jesus offers an interesting solution in Luke. He says, “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you” (v. 41).
This verse doesn’t make a lot of sense unless we understand “alms” to mean “something dedicated to God.” So in other words, Jesus is saying, “Dedicate everything within you to God–all your thoughts, your hopes, and aspirations. And then your life will be clean.”
So you don’t need to look at the moon first thing in the morning to see God. But you are called to begin the day by offering to God everything within.
Here’s a helpful prayer:
O God, I give to you all that I have and all that I am. All my hopes and aspirations have their origin and end in you. Guide the beginning of my work today and bring it to completion so that, in all, Jesus Christ is praised.
And then, the God who has been made known to you in all creation will be worshiped and glorified in your life.