THE THINGS THAT GOD DID NOT MAKE
Brothers and Sisters,
There is an old riddle that I would like to reacquaint you with today, maybe you already know this one:
Q. What is the one and only man-made thing that exists in Heaven?
A. The five wounds of Christ.
It may seem like a traditional trick-question, but it is far from it. It is absolutely true that the one thing that humanity contributed to Heaven is an absence of a good thing that ought to be there. The missing pieces of Christ (the wounds in His two hands, His two feet, and in His side) are the only thing that is man-made in Heaven. Framed positively, we created an absence; framed negatively, we took something away from Heaven. In either case, the responsibility is clear: our sins took away from the perfection of Heaven.
The official term for this in theology is privation – the absence of a good that ought to be present. This riddle and its answer are very helpful to understand what the Church means when She calls something a sin.
The definition of sin is “a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor” (CCC 1849). This failure is a lack of something, the absence of genuine love – a privation of goodness that ought to be present. From our sins, humanity created a deficiency of goodness and virtue. To cover this deficit, Christ gave Himself to death, resulting in the holes in His hands, feet, and side.
Hidden right in the middle of all of that is an earthly thing created by humanity: death. “God did not make death” (Wisdom 1:13); this phrase needs some unpacking to be properly understood, though. Death as an event existed long before humanity (animals, dinosaurs, plants, and stars all died long before humanity existed). Humanity created their own death in that we have the potential to lose eternal life from our own actions and thoughts. So often I have people telling me that “god would never send anyone to hell, right?” I suppose at some level that is correct, because it is our own selves that would be the responsible.
From “in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do,” I bring upon myself a lack (that is a privation) of the good of Eternal Life. God is love, true, and does not will that we should be absent from Heaven. Since we have Almighty God wanting us for the Eternal Wedding Feast, let’s be sure to not decline His invitation, even by omission.
Pray often each day, love the Mass, and do good works.
God be near,