November 17, 2023
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Theology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
Lectionary: 495

Wisdom 13:1-9
Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5ab
Luke 17:26-37

Praying Ordinary Time Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Reflecting on today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom, I can’t help but think of St. Augustine of Hippo. One of the most brilliant minds of any era, Augustine also lacked patience for the types of intellectual sophistries in which scholars could, to echo Wisdom, “speculate about the world” but not “find its Lord.” And even as he marveled at the beauties of the created world, he also raised concerns at the dangers of confusing the creation with the Creator. As he writes at the end of Book 1 of Confessions, “My sin consisted in this, that I sought pleasure, sublimity, and truth not in God but in his creatures, in myself and other created beings.”   

And yet, I also can’t help but think of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si. In this groundbreaking encyclical, the Pope calls on people of good will to embrace an ecospirituality of “wonder and awe” by contemplating nature as reflective of the “inexhaustible riches of God” (LG 85-86). Francis argues that our modern ecological crisis has grown out of a fundamental disconnect with the natural world. Often distanced from the land and living in a technological world, we moderns can struggle to see God in the “greatness and beauty of created things,” or to marvel with the Psalmist at how “the heavens proclaim the glory of God.”

As Jesus reminds us in Luke’s gospel, Christians are to live in a spirit of eschatological hope and expectation. In her radical witness of other-centered service to the poor, St. Elizabeth of Hungary modeled this type of apocalyptic hope in the thirteenth century. Facing an apocalyptic environmental crisis of our own making, may we restless souls seek more faithful modes of witness to the Creator and Master Artisan of our most beautiful world.  

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