VII. The gaze of Jesus [96 – 100]

I have begun to publish sections and segments of the Popes letter on OUR network of blogs as well as on Linkedin & Quora & Newsvine and will add my comments over time. Pappa francescos 180 page letter is much less about religion than it is about nature and the planet earth. He proposes some fairly radical yet simple and understandable solutions for humankind. It is way past time to start paying attention to what we are all doing or allowing others to do

96. Jesus took up the biblical faith in God the
Creator, emphasizing a fundamental truth: God
is Father (cf. Mt 11:25). In talking with his disciples,
Jesus would invite them to recognize the paternal
relationship God has with all his creatures.
With moving tenderness he would remind them
that each one of them is important in God’s eyes:
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
And not one of them is forgotten before God”
(Lk 12:6). “Look at the birds of the air: they neither
sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet
your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt 6:26).
97. The Lord was able to invite others to be
attentive to the beauty that there is in the world
because he himself was in constant touch with
nature, lending it an attention full of fondness
and wonder. As he made his way throughout the

78 New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Statement
on Environmental Issues (1 September 2006).

land, he often stopped to contemplate the beauty
sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to
perceive a divine message in things: “Lift up your
eyes, and see how the fields are already white for
harvest” (Jn 4:35). “The kingdom of God is like
a grain of mustard seed which a man took and
sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds,
but once it has grown, it is the greatest of plants”
(Mt 13:31-32).

98. Jesus lived in full harmony with creation,
and others were amazed: “What sort of man is
this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
(Mt 8:27). His appearance was not that of an ascetic
set apart from the world, nor of an enemy
to the pleasant things of life. Of himself he
said: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking
and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard!’”
(Mt 11:19). He was far removed from philosophies
which despised the body, matter and the
things of the world. Such unhealthy dualisms,
nonetheless, left a mark on certain Christian thinkers
in the course of history and disfigured the Gospel.
Jesus worked with his hands, in daily contact
with the matter created by God, to which he gave
form by his craftsmanship. It is striking that most
of his life was dedicated to this task in a simple
life which awakened no admiration at all: “Is not
this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:3). In
this way he sanctified human labour and endowed
it with a special significance for our development.
As Saint John Paul II taught, “by enduring the toil
of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man
in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the
redemption of humanity”.79

99. In the Christian understanding of the world,
the destiny of all creation is bound up with the
mystery of Christ, present from the beginning:
“All things have been created though him and for
him” (Col 1:16).80 The prologue of the Gospel of
John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the
Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the
prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became
flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity
entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his
lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning
of the world, but particularly through the
incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a
hidden manner in the natural world as a whole,
without thereby impinging on its autonomy.

100. The New Testament does not only tell us
of the earthly Jesus and his tangible and loving
relationship with the world. It also shows him
risen and glorious, present throughout creation
by his universal Lordship: “For in him all the fullness
of God was pleased to dwell, and through
him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on
earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of

79 Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens (14 September
1981), 27: AAS 73 (1981), 645.
80 Hence Saint Justin could speak of “seeds of the Word”
in the world; cf. II Apologia 8, 1-2; 13, 3-6: PG 6, 457-458, 467.

his cross” (Col 1:19-20). This leads us to direct
our gaze to the end of time, when the Son will
deliver all things to the Father, so that “God may
be everything to every one” (1 Cor 15:28). Thus,
the creatures of this world no longer appear to
us under merely natural guise because the risen
One is mysteriously holding them to himself and
directing them towards fullness as their end. The
very flowers of the field and the birds which his
human eyes contemplated and admired are now
imbued with his radiant presence.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *