Beauty and Restoration

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24 November 2017

There is something so uplifting about looking at a beautiful artwork or landscape; even a well-designed implement can be a joy to use. I must admit that, while I do not have a lot of time for creating, I am quite proud of some of my colouring in!
The human person is created to be attuned to beauty as a way of lifting our hearts to God, who is Beauty. When we create something beautiful we are expressing something of our dignity as human beings created “in the image of God.”

Creating something expressly for the purpose of worship, then, is an even more solemn expression of this. The Catechism describes sacred art as,

“evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God – the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,” in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (CCC 2502)

In the first reading today we hear of the response of Judas and his brothers, together with all the people, to the desecration of the altar in the Temple. The first act of the conquering army was not to celebrate, but to restore the altar and the Temple to its original beauty and purpose. Restoring its beauty was an expression of the place that God had in their hearts.

It is little wonder, then, that Jesus also reacted with passionate anger when he saw the temple used as a “robber’s den” – the temple was supposed to be an expression of the union between God and God’s people in prayer, but it had become something else entirely!

Look around you – can you see areas where the beauty of God’s creation is not being appreciated and used to draw us into closer communion with God? Perhaps in the way that we treat the earth? Perhaps in the way that we dishonour our bodies? Perhaps in the way that we take for granted a beautiful relationship that God has given us? Spend some time today asking God to show you what “temples” he would like you to begin to restore.

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