Last week we looked at the Sacraments and how they impact on our everyday lives. This week we continue to explore this theme.
The Jewish philosopher, Abraham Heschel, is quoted as saying “Being human involves being sensitive to the sacred.”
Only human beings are created as individuals, as unique images of God, and also unique in ourselves because of our individual experiences and our capability of knowing and choosing. The spark of the divine is in each person and it is this that links us and all creation to God. By our very nature we are drawn to the sacredness in God and in all things created by God. As sacred beings we are challenged to be reflective, to have an attitude of reverence and wonder in all situations. The world of a child is new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement, and it is in the sharing of that uncomplicated world that adults are most sensitive to the sacred.
God established a harmonious relationship in all things when God created them. As created beings, we are called to relationship with the Creator. We are responsible not only to self and others but to the rest of the created world as well. The relationship we share with all things, by virtue of being created by God, calls us to live responsibly towards self, others, nature, God, as well as towards all of life’s events.
We reverence the sacredness in our relationships when we are truly present to each other. The sacredness of others speaks to us in the very midst of our active lives, in the love and the caring that make each day. We are in God’s love in all that we do. And, as we grow in relationship with one another, God’s life and our ability to love God more deeply grow within us. God’s desire to communicate with us is not confined to any one place but is everywhere and in all things. We accept and reverence the sacredness of each other at birth, marriage, death, and in every encounter with people in our daily lives. God is in all our relationships but also in all our experiences of life.
Another aspect of how being human involves being sensitive to the sacred is in our relationship with nature. As long as we fail to relate to and respect God’s creation – the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the oceans – we fail to be sensitive to their sacredness. We have been given the right to exercise stewardship over the environment, to recognise the sacredness of all created things, not as objects to use or misuse. When we exercise this power senselessly, it leads to a poor relationship with creation and to a ruthless exploitation of the environment. Our insensitivity and misuse of this power are seen in the ease with which we destroy the mountains to build houses, when we cut down trees and fail to replace them, pollute our rivers with plastics or other non-biodegradable objects, and otherwise destroy the environment.
As human beings we need to re-establish the true relationship God intended and recover the mystery of life. Our loss of the sense of the sacred in things leads us to behavioural patterns that are inconsistent with our nature as beings created in God’s image. If things lose their mystery and we become preoccupied with their usefulness, they tend to distract us from, rather than put us in touch with, the sacred side of ourselves.
A desensitised society also goes so far as to see people in terms of their usefulness.
What is sacred in all things, therefore, is their power to speak to us of their Creator.
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” Abraham Joshua Heschel
– Sr Juliet Rajah CHF
Archdiocesan Catechetical Office