God’s call and address to man can be understood in two ways. God can address man directly from without and from within, as we know with Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. But he can also speak to man indirectly through the created world. Through the created reality that surrounds man. Everything bears witness to its origin and thus to God. It is as if every tree, every flower speaks to man. Where did I come from? Who formed me in this way? Who has arranged the matter within me into shapes, colors, and activities that we have not even had time to examine in our laboratories. Thoughtful people have always heard these unspoken but real questions the world has asked them about God. St. Paul speaks of all men. It is pretty apparent to them what they ought to know about God. His invisible being can be learned from created things. Romans 1:19. The very existence of things awakens in man’s consciousness a sense of being and of beings that do not depend on me, but I rely on them. Bread does not depend on me, but I depend on bread; the grain of wheat was before I began to exist. Even though I don’t always have everything on my mind, whenever I look at an ear of grain, a vine, and a flying eagle, it is always clear that these are miracles around me—these results from a thoughtful and deliberate creation that transcends matter and a man. Until now, none of us has created a single living flower, a single living apple, or a single living cell. All this exists around me and in millions. I am not at all surprised that any of these wonders can move a poet, a painter, or a musician to tears because through the visible things, something invisible and mysterious is revealed to us. But not only a flower, a tree, a bird in flight awakens in our questions about God, not only the miraculous course of nature but also the life of people, the development of nations, and their astonishing creations reminiscent of God. Where would man, and where would countries, with their cultures and civilizations, books, sculptures, and paintings, with their thought and love, come from if it were not for God? Paul the Apostle in Lystra said. We preach the gospel so that you may turn to the living God who created the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. And to the Greeks at the Aerospace, he said, God created the world and all that is in it. God is not far from any of us. For in him, we live and move and have our being. If we wanted to sum up the relationship between the world and God in one word, we would say that the world is a sign of God. A character is a thing whose meaning is in another thing. A symbol is a fact that could not be explained if it did not involve and express another point. Without this second fact, we would not see and understand the first fact in its fullness, nor would we exhaust its meaning and significance. When we hear a cry for help in the wilderness, we are not satisfied with hearing the sound, but we recognize the importance of the word in the sound. We know that someone is in danger and needs our help. Man would be guilty of a crime against his mission if, in looking at things, he stopped at their physical appearance and did not look for their meaning and witness that they point to God; through the world, we know God.
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