Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Joyous Obedience of the Stars

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This is a re-run of an old post on a favorite scripture passage. 

Today's   first reading from the Office of Readings (Baruch3:9-15) again delighted me with one of my very favorite, thought obscure, verses of Sacred Scripture:
He...before whom the stars at their posts
 shine and rejoice;
When He calls them,
they answer, "Here we are!"
shining with joy for their Maker. 

It's like something out of a child's fairy tale, transforming these vast balls of burning gas into a persons, and friendly ones at that. In fact it transforms them into children eager to please their Father. 

This verse puts me in mind of two things. First, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.  In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader it is revealed that the stars of Narnia are rational beings, who after their long lives in the heavens may  come to live down on earth. 

Second, I think of medieval theology,  which explains that the movement of the stars and the planets is supervised by the angels: that God delegates  some of his ongoing work in holding all creation together to his mightiest servants. One can read these words and picture the angels, joyful in doing the work God has given them, shouting out their nightly greetings to their Creator.

Third, every created thing, rational or non-rational, animate or inanimate, truly does offer praise to its creator simply by doing that which it was created to do.  So this scripture verse reminds me of how blessed are the stars, how happy they would be if they were rational, because they do fulfill  God's will perfectly. In this we might well envy them.

Then, jumping ahead to tomorrow's (Sunday's) second reading from the OOR, we read  St. Clement's letter to the Corinthians, which  takes up the topic of order and obedience in nature.

By his direction the heavens are in motion, and they are subject to him in peace. Day and night fulfill the course he has established without interfering with each other. The sun, the moon and the choirs of stars revolve in harmony at his command in their appointed paths without deviation

So if you enjoy stargazing, enjoy this weekend's lessons from the Divine Office.