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The Divine Revelation
The first part of the Catechism deals with what we mean by Revelation which is how God makes himself known to us, the revealed truth.
Date: 01 Dec 2019
As we go Sunday by Sunday, systematically through the whole of the Catholic Faith, as set out in the Catechism, we will see that sometimes the Scripture readings seem to have nothing to do with what we are considering, at other times they could have been chosen as particularly appropriate. One of the many things we shall, I hope, have come to realise by the end of this series of sermons is that everything, every word of scripture, every teaching and action of Christ, every single teaching of his Church, indeed every single one of our good actions, our prayers, our sacrifices are a part, a thread, maybe not the biggest and most obvious thread, but a thread none the less of that wonderful tapestry which is the truth revealed by God.
The first part of the Catechism deals with what we mean by Revelation which is how God makes himself known to us, the revealed truth. Creation is our starting point and indeed the starting point for every single human being. The beauty of creation, a sunset, a tree, a beautiful view, a delicate flower all speak of the Creator. There were two good friends but one of them didn't believe in God. What about the earth, the sun, the moon, the planets, the beauty of the universe? Where is that from - what is the reason for it? asked his Catholic friend. There is no reason, he answered, it just is, it’s always been there and it just evolves and that’s it. His Catholic friend took him to a room in his house and showed him a delicate and intricate model of the solar system, a beautiful work of art made of gold and silver, with precious jewels and fine engraving. It was clockwork and when he wound it up the planets revolved round the sun and the moons revolved around the planets but all silently so skilful was the workmanship. ‘Wow!’ Said the atheist. ‘That must be worth something. It's beautiful where did it come from?’ ‘What do you mean’ said the Catholic 'where did it come from?' It has always been here. 'No I mean who made it?' Said his friend. 'Who made it?' Said the Catholic. 'No one made it. It just is. I think it just appeared one day'. But you’re talking nonsense said his atheist friend, things have to be made by someone, things don't just appear out of nowhere. ‘Exactly’ said the Catholic ‘so let’s go and look at the real sun and moon and stars again’.
But it's not just through the beauty of creation and the need for creation to have a reason that God speaks to each person. We also long for justice and right, for something beyond suffering and death. As Isaiah says in today’s first reading ‘Nation will not lift up sword against nation – there will be no more war’ Here is evidence of God revealing Himself through the nature of the human person with its openness to truth and beauty, its sense of freedom, morality and desire for happiness. This is what we hear in poetry, in art, in philosophy, when a great politician says I want a better world and when a child says it isn't fair. In each human person is the desire to know and to grow, the desire to look beyond themselves and their own lives to something greater. The desire to transcend themselves. This is why since the beginning humans have had culture, religion and science. Why humans have investigated creation, buried people with a view to the next life, painted pictures, written poems fought injustice and prayed to Gods - because it is part of human nature to look for and to desire to know God. This is true of everyone and everyone can, by this desire, come to know something of God.
But there is a further revelation by God. A gradual historical unfolding of revelation which reaches its fullness in Jesus. This revelation, this making known to us, by God, that which we could not know ourselves is recorded in the history of the people of Israel, God’s chosen people, the Old Testament. Slowly, over many years, preparing humanity, in many different ways and situations, deepening hope, building unity, preparing a way which culminates in Jesus. Jesus is the fullness of the revelation first received by the people of Israel and this fullness of revelation consists of His self-giving in service of and for the redemption of creation in other words his very life reveals God. Jesus is the fullness of God’s revelation, there are no further revelations, nothing can be added to what Jesus has revealed; in Jesus is the truth about God and the truth about man. The answer to all the human person desires and needs.
Next week we look at how this revelation, this making known of himself in Jesus by God is faithfully passed on to us.