490: "God created the universe because he was looking for something to love"
Day 490 Monday, July 18th, 2021
“What was God doing before he created the world?” asked a little girl. The pope answered without missing a beat: “God was looking for something to love.”
- A reflection by Jim Fredericks
You can be forgiven if you don’t remember Michael Collins. He went to the moon with Buzz Aldrin and, of course, Neil Armstrong, in 1969. Perhaps you don’t remember him because Michael Collins stayed on board Apollo 11 while his other two shipmates descended to the surface of the moon.
Michael Collins was often asked what the moon looked like from the lunar orbiter. His answer is worth remembering. When asked this question he didn’t actually have a lot to share. Instead, he would say, “I spent much more time looking at the earth – beautiful, shimmering blue, a fragile speck, lost in the immensity of black-velvet space.” (I’m not sure if this is an exact quote, but it is close).
When I heard this story about Michael Collins, I thought of something that Pope Francis said a few years ago. At some event, a little girl asked the pope, “What was God doing before he created the world?”
This strikes me as a very sensible question. And the pope was ready with a sensible answer. Without dropping a beat, he said to the little girl,
“God was looking for something to love.”
The little girl, I’m told, liked the answer.
God created the universe because he was looking for something to love.
I think it is helpful, as a spiritual practice, to remember that we are created in the image and likeness of this God who was looking for something to love when he created the universe. Think of how enchanted Michael Collins was with the earth as it rose, shimmering, in “the immensity of black-velvet space.”
We can be distracted by all the foolish things human beings do to hurt the things that God has found to love. So, I think it is a good spiritual practice to reflect on the fact that, in our deepest instincts, we are fundamentally like God: we too are looking for something to love.
With all this in mind, take a look at today’s Gospel.
Jesus gives marching orders to “the Twelve.”
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
In effect, Jesus is telling the Twelve to go out and find something to love. In Jesus’s view, we don’t need much to do this.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
And this is certainly Good News. Mark, in effect, is telling us that we don’t need a lot of money or material resources to do what God is doing – looking for something to love.
And when we begin to do what God is always doing – looking for something to love – we will finally become once again the miraculous creature that God always intended us to be. We are created in the image and likeness of the God who is looking for something to love. The Good News is that we need hardly anything at all to become this creature once again… a walking stick, a pair of sandals and, of course, a touch of God’s grace.
Jesus is not naïve about looking for something to love either. Love, freely offered, can be refused. Sometimes, the refusal can be down-right cruel. When this happens, we are to continue the search for something to love by moving on.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”
When you set out, like the Twelve and, of course, like the God of Creation, on the journey, don’t expect to be thanked for your services. I recommend that we love and serve our neighbors as best we can and then let go of the result. We plant the seeds. The harvest belongs to the good Lord above. Our job is just to keep looking for something to love.
This can be a hard thing to do. But Saint Paul tells us, in his letter to the Galatians, that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is agathosyne. This word is often translated into English as “generosity.” But there is a nuance that we need to appreciate. Agathosyne means “attachment to doing what is good” or “the pursuit of what is good.” Maybe we could translate this word as “a dedication or commitment to doing what is good.” Today, I think I will translate agathosyne as “a steadfast determination to go looking for something to love.”
This is a good way to spend your life. In fact, this is The Way itself. Anything else is really just wasting time.
Think of Michael Collins, back in 1969, circling around the moon as his companions descended to the lunar surface. Think of this fellow human being who was enchanted by the earth – “beautiful, shimmering blue, a fragile speck, lost in the immensity of black-velvet space.” And then remember that this is how God looks on the earth and all the creatures that make a home here.
God created the earth, Pope Francis tells us, because he was looking for something to love.
Don’t waste time doing anything else.