Monday of the Second Week of Lent
Saint Mark’s version of Jesus’ time in the desert says that “He was among wild beasts…” (Mark 1:13). In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, “beasts” were not “wild.” They were perfectly tame and all Creation lived in perfect harmony.
Since Jesus had much time for prayer and meditation within the desert, He would have allowed the witness of these wild beasts to be a visual reminder to Him of the disorder of Creation. In God’s original plan, in the Garden of Eden, animals were not predators or prey. God provided for them. But since all of creation was affected by the fall of Adam and Eve, even animals now share in the effects of this fallen world. Thus, animals die, they consume one another, and they experience disease, hunger, and violence. Their sense of survival is an instinct that mirrors the self-centeredness we all tend toward in life. These qualities were not present at the beginning of time, before the effects of Original Sin.
Imagine the scene when Jesus came face-to-face with wild beasts acting on impulse, consuming one another for food, being killed, corpses rotting in the heat, and even the dryness of the few plants trying to survive. Though animals are incapable of moral choices, the natural disorder in which they now share would have allowed our Lord to ponder the effects of Original Sin with His own eyes. As He pondered these effects, He would have longed for the complete transformation of this fallen world into the New Creation He came to establish. He would have anticipated the glorious New Heavens and New Earth when the “wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them” (Isaiah 11:6). He would have longed for that future time when plants would grow to superabundant fruitfulness, disease and death among the irrational beasts and vegetation would cease, and nature itself would experience a transformation that goes beyond even the abundance and harmony of the Garden of Eden.
Though all things are made in the likeness and image of God, “all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” as it awaits its redemption (see Romans 8:22). Therefore, as beautiful as creation is, the created world of animals, landscapes, and vegetation is an imperfect reflection of God. Jesus would have been keenly aware of this fact, given that His mind was perfectly aware of not only the state of Original Innocence within the Garden of Eden, but also of the future transformation of the created world into something far more glorious and far more reflective of God the Creator.
Ponder, today, the beauty of God’s creation as you encounter it within this fallen world. First try to see the beauty of God the Creator reflected in creation. Then try to imagine what creation will be like when the New Heavens and New Earth are established at the end of time. The “beasts” will no longer be “wild.” Harmony will exist to perfection, the land will be superabundant, predators and prey will cease to be, and God will be made perfectly manifest to us through the New World that He establishes.
Lord of Creation, though Your act of Creation was perfect, the sin of Adam and Eve introduced disorder. While in this life, help me to see beyond the current disorder of Creation so that I can discover You, reflected in all You have created. Help me also to anticipate that glorious day to come when everything in this world will be made new, harmony will be reestablished, disease eliminated, and Your glory and beauty will be seen in all that You have created. Jesus, I trust in You.