Today’s Lectio Divina:
First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss…God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good! Genesis 1: 1-2, 31a (MsgB)
Ignatian Truth #2: Ignatian spirituality is all about God as our Creator. God is involved in the world and involved in the lives of individuals, guiding us, communicating to us, and loving us. God is holy, other, and transcendent; yet God is personal, involved, and immanent. God is Triune – with each person of the Trinity unique, but yet One.
As one begins to journey through the Spiritual Exercises, it becomes very clear, very quickly, that St. Ignatius had a theocentric view of the universe.
That’s a fancy word for living a life that puts God at the center or makes the Divine the main focus of life. Theocentric means I live a focused existence that is God-centered versus living a life that revolves all around the almighty me!
So, allow me, dear reader, to ask you this question.
Are you theocentric?
Chances are, if you’re a regular visitor to our website, The Contemplative Activist, you are. But here’s where I’d like to take you a bit further down the road of your theocentric life.
You see, it’s one thing to be theocentric, believing that God is in all things, where the existence of God and the role of God in life is well-established. But as you’ll see as you walk through the Spiritual Exercises, you’ll also find yourself having to address these deeper questions…
So, who is this God who stands at the center of the universe?
Don’t be shy…tell me more about this God?
Can you describe Him?
Can you define this Divine Being that is in and thru all things?
For Ignatius, it was very obvious on how to answer this question, and for him, his answer starts, just as the Bible starts, with one very important phrase:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1: 1 NIV)
It’s intriguing that throughout the Book of Genesis, the ancient Hebrew language uses a very unique word for our English word ‘create’ or ‘created.’ The word is bara (pronounced ba-rah) and it means to create, or form, or shape out of nothing. Another ancient Hebrew word is found throughout the Old Testament, asah (pronounced ah-sah), which means ‘to make.’ But here’s the intriguing fact. The Hebrew word bara (to create) is used exclusively for activity associated with God, while the word asah (to make) is used when describing either the work of God or, more specifically, the creative work a man can do. In other words, human beings can ‘make’ (asah), but only God can ‘create’ (bara)!
This is why the Genesis phrase, ‘God created (bara) the heavens and the earth’ is so important for those who attempt to describe the God we worship. You see, only with God, can we experience a true creation…a miracle…something out of nothing. Yes, man can ‘make’ something out of something already there (asah), but only God can ‘create’ (bara), bringing life and order out of nothingness!
So back to Ignatius.
Q: Who is this God, this Divine Being, at the center of all life?
A: The Creator of heaven and earth, you and me, and everything and anything else in and around us.
Which reminds me of the old joke…
One day, there was a group of scientists who were debating with each other about the literal interpretation of Genesis and the creation story. So, one doubting scientist sends an emissary to talk with God about the whole thing. He plans to entrap God by having a “life-making contest.” The wise scientist thinks that he has figured it all out and that he can clone a new life as quickly and efficiently as God can create a human being. God says to the scientist, “OK, you go first.” The scientist bends over to scoop up a handful of soil. At this point, God interjects, “Sorry, out-of-bounds. That’s my dirt. You need to go get your own!”
My prayer: God, as I see it, this one little Hebrew word is a big game-changer. Not only can You asah, making something out of something like I can do, You can also bara, making something out of nothing! For me, that not only distinguishes You uniquely at the beginning of time, but it also confirms for me today that with God, the Creator of heaven and earth, nothing is impossible in and through You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: In what ways can this little Hebrew word of bara change the way I look at God and how He interacts with His creation? With nothing impossible for Him, and with His unique ability to make something out of nothing, bringing order out of chaos; how might this alter the way I react to difficulties, emptiness, or trials I might face in this life?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!