Catechism

God The Creator

Pope Benedict XVI

February, 2013

The Creed which begins by describing God as “the Father Almighty”, then adds that he is “Maker of heaven and earth”, and thus takes up the affirmation with which the Bible begins. Indeed the first verse of Sacred Scripture reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). God is the origin of all things and his omnipotence as a loving Father unfolds in the beauty of the creation.

In creation, God manifested himself as Father, since he is the origin of life, and in creating he shows his omnipotence. And Sacred Scripture uses very evocative images of it. As a good and powerful Father he takes care of what he has created with unfailing love and faithfulness, as the Psalms say over and over again. So it is that creation becomes a place in which to know and recognize the Lord’s omnipotence and goodness, as well as an appeal to our faith as believers that we proclaim God as Creator.

“By faith”, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, “we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (11:3). Faith thus implies the ability to recognize the invisible, by identifying its traces in the visible world. Believers can read the great book of nature and understand its language (cf Ps 19:2-5); but the word of revelation that awakens faith is necessary if man is to become fully aware of the reality of God as Creator and Father. The Book of Sacred Scripture says that human intelligence can find the clue to understanding the world in the light of faith.

With the solemn presentation of the divine work of creation that unfolded over seven days, the first chapter of Genesis occupies a special place. God brought the creation to completion in six days and on the seventh, the sabbath, he did not do anything, but rested: a day of freedom for all, a day of communion with God. Thus, with this image the Book of Genesis tells us that God’s first thought was to find a love that would correspond to his love.

Then his second thought was to create a material world in which to place this love, these creatures who respond to him in freedom. This structure therefore results in the text being marked by certain meaningful repetitions. For example, the sentence “God saw that it was good”, is repeated six times (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and to conclude, the seventh time, after the creation of man: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (v. 31). Everything that God creates is beautiful and good, steeped in wisdom and love; God’s creative action brings order, instils harmony and bestows beauty.

In the narrative of Genesis, therefore, it becomes clear that the Lord created with his word: ten times we read in the text the phrase: “God said” (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29). It is the Word, the Logos of God who is at the origin of the reality of the world, and saying: “God said”, it was so, emphasizes the effective power of the divine Word. This is what the Psalmist sings: “by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth… for he spoke, and it came to be, he commanded and it stood forth” (33[32]:6, 9). Life springs forth, the world exists, because all things obey the divine Word.

However, our question today is: in the age of science and technology does speaking of creation still make sense? How should we understand the narratives in Genesis? The Bible does not intend to be a natural science manual; rather, it wishes to make the authentic and profound truth of things understood. The fundamental truth that the accounts of Genesis reveal to us is that the world is not a collection of forces that clash with each other; it has its origin and its permanence in the Logos, in God’s eternal Reason which continues to sustain the universe.

A plan of the world exists which is conceived by this Reason, by the Creator Spirit. To believe that this is the foundation of all things illuminates every aspect of existence and gives us the courage to face the adventure of life with trust and hope. Therefore, Scripture tells us that the origin of being, of the world, our own origin is not in the irrational or in need, but rather in reason and love and freedom.

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