What was God doing five minutes before he created the world? Time does not exist without some movement and transition, while in eternity there is no change, who does not see that there could have been no time had not some creature been made.” City of God, Book XI Chapter 6.
St. Augustine speaks of a space-time continuum. When there is no matter, there is no time. When there is more matter, there is more time.
Albert Einstein found space and time interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. Events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another. As he worked out the equations for his general theory of relativity, Einstein realized that massive objects caused a distortion in space-time.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish Torah or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from Torah, until all things have taken place. Gospel reading for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Torah precedes all existence; it contains the blueprint for the cosmos, and the very existence of the cosmos is contingent upon Torah. Talmud Pasachim 54a, Berchachot 9a, Shabbat 88a
If you remove a dot or a dash from Torah, heaven and earth will pass away. If you take the undergirding from a building, the building collapses. St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of four causes. God is the efficient cause of all things in that he is the One who set all things in motion. God is the final cause in that beatific vision with him, Perichoresis, the divine dance with him is what God requires all of creation to strive to do.
Torah is the formal cause of all things. It is God’s blueprint. This undergirding girds all of creation. The world as Eretz, wilderness and chaos of our earth is the material cause. Genesis 1 begins with wilderness and chaos and ends up with established order as Torah infuses itself in it. Torah is about bringing harmony and concord to the material cause, which is the world. God calls us to participate in bringing this harmony to the world. This is who we are as Catholics. When there are huge disparities of income as currently exist in this nation, there can be no harmony and no concord. If we do not address this issue, we will fall back into wilderness and chaos. As our first reading tells us, this will be our choice, and God will call us to account.
In Book Three Chapter 8 of his Confessions St. Augustine compares the Ten Commandments to a lyre. Just as the lyre is made of groupings of three and ten strings, so the Ten Commandments are made of the first three referring to God, and the second seven referring to man’s relations with each other. In Augustine’s writing, at least in the book, “The Complete Works of Saint Augustine,” “Music,” appears 71 times. “Concord,” appears 39 times, 10 times in Book 19 alone. Harmony appears 42 times 14 times in our Chapter 19, alone. Justice? It appears in every Book of the City of God, a grand 493 times. Augustine wrote about justice, not music.
St. Augustine also quotes Cicero’s Republic, ““As among the different sounds which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there must be maintained a certain harmony which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed or jarring, but which may be elicited in full and absolute concord by the modulation even of voices very unlike one another. Where reason is allowed to modulate the diverse elements of the state, there is obtained a perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony in singing, is concord in matters of state, which is the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice has become extinct.” St. Augustine, City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21.
Torah is about harmony and concord. It is about making sure all people are free to pursue whom they are as individuals, to find their final end, which ultimately is God. This is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is far more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is about far more than finding a job. It is the foundation for the Catholic moral tradition that education is about life and culture. There is no room for rugged individualism and the Protestant work ethic in harmony. Harmony is about working together. Harmony is about sharing the work, and then the rewards of that work.
The Beatitudes are in the form scholars call a Chiasmus. The first and last verses mirror one another. The second and the second from the last versus mirror one another. This teaches something. The second beatitude is, “Blessed are those that mourn.” The second to the last is, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Matthew’s Chapter 5 ends, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. He makes his sun rise on the rotten and the beautiful and causes rain to fall on the charitable and the uncharitable. If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors* do the same? If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? Be Shalom, just as your heavenly Father is Shalom.”
The Hebrew word, “Shalom,” means two things. First, it means completion. From the idea of completion comes being perfect. From the idea of completion comes the second meaning. When we are complete, when we have all we desire, we are at peace, with God and with each other.
When we are complete with each other, we can mourn our losses and still see each other, including those who rained upon us, as fellow children of God. One Jewish story tells the story of the parting of the Red Sea. The Hebrew people cross on dry ground. Pharaoh and his chariots start to cross and the sea falls in upon them. The Hebrew people sing the Song of the Sea. The Angels join them and God says, “Quiet! Can’t you see my children are drowning? Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b
This is what the rabbis wrote. This is the standard of justice of the scribes/grammarians in Greek, and the Pharisees/the separate ones. “I tell you, unless your righteousness/Tsaddik/charity surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Striving to make sure all people are all they can be, fulfilling the efficient cause God placed within them so they can reach their final-end, is the standard. The standard is bringing harmony to all of creation. The ultimate standard is realizing we are all in the same orchestra, called to make harmonious music to God, through the concord of civilization. Are we up to the task.
Our first reading for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time tells us, “God has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before men are life and death, beauty and rot, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” Life is about fulfilling all of who we are, for all of us, rich and poor, black, German, Irish, Polish, Hispanic, Arab, Russian, and Chinese. There is no room for blocking immigrants from our borders if this means depriving them of life. There is no room for blocking ethnic northern Europeans into small enclaves, to keep others out. There is only room for welcoming all into the great orchestra of life.