For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists, nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if people were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is the one who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him. While they live among his works, they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful. Yet again, not even they are to be excused; for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message. (R./)
No speech, no word, no voice is heard
yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them. It will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left." Then they asked him, "Where, Lord?" He aid to them, "Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."
It is possible for created things to distract us from God himself. Because the natural things in this world are so good, they can claim our total attention and stifle any desire to think about life beyond this good world. As a mundane example, once the meal is on the table, we seldom remember to thank the cook. The toys and gifts lavished on children are quickly taken for granted. But the Book of Wisdom asserts that from the greatness and the beauty of created things, we should acknowledge God as their author.
This raises important questions for the agnostic and atheist as well as for the believer. People are distracted by what they see, because the things see are so beautiful. For women and men of faith even certain habitual forms of prayer and worship can hold us back from God. Sometimes the rubrics of worship become more important than the One to whom we pray. Parents can be so concerned about what the neighbours might think, that fear of shame overrides their love for their children.
In all four Gospels, Jesus makes the challenging statement that "Whoever tries to spare their life, will lose it; whoever seems to forfeit it, will keep it." While living fully in the present, we must look behind the veil of signs to see the Creator. While loving one another, we need to be rooted in the love of Jesus, to deepen our capacity for authentic love. If we forget God, our loving becomes shallow and self-serving; and such love does not last. It seems as if only if we share with others, will God entrust us with eternal life; and to hold on to life we must find it with Jesus, who enables us to truly love one another.
The gospel warns against being so absorbed in daily life that we neglect what ultimately matters. We are largely taken up with eating and drinking, writing and reading, buying and selling, planting and building, and keeping our relationships vibrant. These are the stuff of life and cannot be neglected. They are so important that we may to see them as all that matters, and neglect our spiritual life.
Above and beyond all our daily concerns there is a deeper reality, what Jesus calls the day of the Son of Man. The Son of Man is revealed at the end of time and also in the here and now. The Lord is near us, in and through the ordinary activities in which we are so engaged. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Always we are invited to be aware of the Lord who is at the heart of life. So even as we go about our daily lives, deep in our hearts we keep his presence in mind.