Dies Domini 11: The Creator’s Joyful Rest

Section 11, titled “‘Shabbat’: the Creator’s joyful rest” looks at God’s seventh day as an inspiration:

11. If the first page of the Book of Genesis presents God’s “work” as an example for (people), the same is true of God’s “rest”: “On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done” (Gn 2:2). Here too we find an anthropomorphism charged with a wealth of meaning.

The ancients probably thought of a resting god as being at leisure, but Jesus witnesses that the Father has a continual state of “work,” in the sense of God’s role of love and concern for the created universe:

It would be banal to interpret God’s “rest” as a kind of divine “inactivity”. By its nature, the creative act which founds the world is unceasing and God is always at work, as Jesus himself declares in speaking of the Sabbath precept: “My Father is working still, and I am working” (Jn 5:17). The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God’s lingering before the “very good” work (Gn 1:31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a gaze full of joyous delight. This is a “contemplative” gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved.

Probably a contrast to the bitter, jealous, and frivolous gods of the ancients. The Father has something more to offer, and we human beings are also called to a contemplation infused with godly qualities: gratitude, joy, delight, etc..

It is a gaze which God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon (humanity), the crown of creation. It is a gaze which already discloses something of the nuptial shape of the relationship which God wants to establish with the creature made in his own image, by calling that creature to enter a pact of love. This is what God will gradually accomplish, in offering salvation to all humanity through the saving covenant made with Israel and fulfilled in Christ. It will be the Word Incarnate, through the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit and the configuration of the Church as his Body and Bride, who will extend to all humanity the offer of mercy and the call of the Father’s love.

And the nuptial metaphor, not a surprise coming from the pen of John Paul II, is appropriate here. The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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