Toward the end of the 1st century, St. Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Christians of Corinth. The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to that church earlier trying to settle arguments going on there. Evidently, things hadn’t changed. Corinth was still a church in turmoil.
Clement’s advice to the Corinthians might be helpful for us in our turmoil today. Instead of drifting off into your own private worlds or fighting with each other, think big, the pope writes. Don’t become a church sunk in smallness. You’re part of a great army defending God’s kingdom and advancing its cause. Stick together and be part of a greater plan.
In lyrical language Clement paints a picture of God’s great plan for creation, urging them not to let their vision become too small. “Fix your gaze on the Father and Creator of the whole world.”
“By God’s direction the heavens are in motion, and they are subject to him in peace. Day and night they fulfill the course God has established. The sun, the moon and the choirs of stars revolve in harmony at his command in their appointed paths without deviation….The earth blossoms in the proper seasons and produces abundant food…”
The destiny of creation is not destruction but resurrection. The world has its fierce, stormy seas, but God commands the seas.
“ Consider, beloved, how the Lord keeps reminding us of the resurrection that is to come, of which he has made the Lord Jesus Christ the first fruits by raising him from the dead. Let us look, beloved, at the resurrection that occurs at its appointed time. Day and night show us a resurrection; the night lies in sleep, day rises again; the day departs, night takes its place. Let us think about the harvest; how does the sowing take place, and in what manner? The sower goes out and casts each seed onto the ground. Dry and bare, they fall into the earth and decay. Then the greatness of the Lord’s providence raises them up again from decay, and out of one many are produced and yield fruit.”
It’s not nature mysticism Clement recommends. It’s a big world seen through the eyes of faith. God’s “great providence” is at work.
Pope Francis, speaking to the world as well as to the church in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”, recommends the same kind of vision, a vision that unfortunately can be dimmed in the contentious political world we live in.
God’s “great providence” is at work. The sun came up today. Seeds are falling into the ground .Look out the window.