1 Cor 12:3-13
The creation of the universe begins first with a Word, "God said ..." and then with light: "... let there be light" — a burst of light of incalculable intensity and scope, the entire universe unpacked from a single atom in many one-trillionths of a fractional-second.
And our worlds will end, individually, with a great burst of light. For with the advent of chest-compression CPR, promoted publicly in the U.S. beginning in 1970, millions of people have reported the same brilliant, white light enveloping them during "after-death" or "near-death" experiences. Before 1970, most people suffering drownings, heart attacks, and other death events, simply died.
Astrophysicists, completing a recent spectroscopic study of 150,000 stars, tell us that 97% of the human body is constituted of the same atoms found at the heart of the Milky Way. "For you are all children of light and children of the day .... not of the night or of darkness" (1 Thess 5:5), writes St. Paul. And St. John affirms, "Believe in the light so that you may become children of light" (Jn:12:36).
Creation is not once-and-for-all thing. It is ongoing as we are ongoing and our children and their children are and will be. Moreover, the original expansion of the universe unpacked from a single atom, continues to expand, ever expanding as a long cosmic echo of the original, divine event. Father God created the universe through His Eternal Word, His Son, and through light:
|In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.|
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; ....
.... the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (Prologue, St. John's Gospel)
Moreover, we grasp that the Father's Will and Divine Energy has created us, created us to be His sons and daughters, holy and perfect. We grasp that His Son redeemed us because we had become unholy, far beyond our own power to redeem, in danger of losing forever our heavenly birthright. His perfect sacrifice once offered, He conquers death wiping out our sins. The Risen Christ, then, dwells with us teaching us more about what has happened and unlocks the Scriptures, as they Disciples said, from Adam to the present moment two thousand years ago. He then ascends into Heaven leaving us alone .... looking heavenward and standing in light.
Standing in Easter light at the dawn of His resurrection, we are holy and perfect — cleansed of all sin as the entire world is renewed in and through this cosmic act of oblation and sacrifice on the Cross. Even Hell has been emptied, at least of all those who are able to embrace this gift of holiness. How might we stay in this earthly heaven forever? St. Athanasius tells us that by reflecting always on the Lord, standing always in that light, making our lives a living meditation of His life, that our freedom-in-holiness will continue. St. Paul and St. John both admonish us to choose the light to reject the things of darkness:
.... but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship
with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 Jn 1:7)
St. Basil the Great — one of the Three Great Hierarchs of the Eastern Church, a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Father of Monasticism — bids us lift up our minds and ponder an Intelligent Being (never addressed as "It" but always "He") Who is almighty in power, unlimited in His greatness, and swift to bless in His boundless generosity. The Holy Spirit can neither be increased by addition nor diminished, but is always complete, self-established, and everywhere present. Above all He is the source of holiness. Through Him alone might we be answerable to the Lord Jesus' charge to be perfect even as His Father in Heaven is perfect.
So elusive is the Holy Spirit that at the Council of Nicaea (325), the Creed said no more than this: "I believe in the Holy Spirit." Born five years after the Nicene Council and dying two years before the Council of Constantinople (381), St. Basil had published his great landmark, On the Holy Spirit, and the Nicene Creed would then be revised to read,
And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the Giver of Life,
Who proceedeth from the Father,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified,
Who spake by the prophets.
We see that from the Father's mouth proceeds the Word, (Deus dixit) the Son begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit (fiat lux). From the Father's mouth proceeds the Word and Light as depicted in Genesis 1:3. For Saint Basil the Great, the perfect image of the Holy Spirit was the sun: all-powerful, all-nurturing, all-cleansing and all-life-giving. Every plant, every animal, everything that lives is sustained by the sun. The sun is able to sustain all life on this planet with food. (And I marveled at the poor soil in Haiti, devoid of nutrients, nonetheless, gave forth all manner of crops and fruits because of the life-endowing sun.) The sun is able to supply all the electrical power human kind will ever need. Most important, it sheds light on our lives, and saves us from the darkness that, if left alone, would become an eternal darkness for the ones who hide from its healthful rays. For a sinful life can only be lived away from the light of day — indecent things done in darkness lest we see them for what they are and then more darkness in order to hide the indecent things that we have done.
God's lesson plan for us is engraved on the Creation. And the sun, St. Basil saw, is God's perfect image for the Third Person of the Triune God: available to all on the earth, needing nothing in Himself yet giving all that we need. He is not subtracted one whit by the gift that He has given, and there is nothing we can give Him back. He cleanses our lives of mold and vermin and our souls of unwholesome ponderings, warming us and protecting us, and, not least, showing us the way to Heaven. St. Basil observed that when we cover ourselves with the mud of sinful life, the sun's rays cannot penetrate through that thick layer. Living beneath filth in a darkness that eventually would kill us, we would be doomed .... unless a little chink should open in the mud, and immediately a sunbeam fills the entire body with warmth and its life-giving properties. We want to return to the light, and the more and more we feel its warmth and its goodness, we remove more and more mud, and the stronger and more light-filled we become. Who has not seen sunlight flood neglected, dark rooms and seen the promise of new life?
The Lord will not go to the Cross a second time to redeem us. That cosmic drama was a once and for all. Certainly, belief in Him and in His saving act can be embraced by anyone and by generations yet to be born. Where we go from the moment of that embrace is up to us. That choice is the most important aspect of God's gift to us of freedom. We are all born to be saints and to dwell forever with the Holy One. Our Guide, our Counselor, our Comforter, the Lord and Giver of Life stands with us still hovering over us since our baptism.
Father God created a universe with His Eternal Word and with Light.
He will never abandon us,
not so long as a sun shines in the sky.
He will be with us till the end of the age,
will even call us His friends ....
so long as we choose to stand in His marvelous light.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit.