Creation exists to be a place for the covenant that God makes with man. The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and man. The freedom and equality of men, which the Sabbath is meant to bring about, is not a merely anthropological or sociological vision; it can only be understood theo-logically. Only when man is in covenant with God does he become free. Only then are the equality and dignity of all men made manifest.
Reflection – I’m so glad to finally (after a whole month of blogging!!!) get around to a first excerpt from this little book. You may be aware that changes in the liturgy are afoot – mostly changes in the English translation, along with increased freedom and interest in the use of the traditional Latin Mass (TLM).
Ratzinger was a primary mover in these changes long before he became Pope Benedict, writing a number of deeply insightful books about the liturgy, its theology, spirituality, and the implications of these on the manner it is to be celebrated. He has not steered away in his writings from controversial topics; indeed, he has been motivated, it seems, by his own deep misgivings about the direction liturgical theology and piety has taken in the years since the Second Vatican Council.
In this short passage we see the heart of the liturgy, grounded in the very heart of creation. ‘On the seventh day, God rested…’ The climax of Genesis 1 is the creation, not of man, but of the sacred space opened up in time, the place where God and man come together in a relationship.
The Sabbath! The whole of creation is oriented towards this. Not towards inter-worldly processes of birth and death, the laws of physics and of economics, but to its Maker. The whole of creation exists so that man and woman, made in God’s image, can be in a relationship of love with Him.
Ratzinger makes the point about freedom and equality here, referring to the version of the Ten Commandments in Deut 8, where the Sabbath laws are linked to the experience of slavery and oppression in
. But isn’t it the case that we experience our lives on earth as being somewhat of a slavery? Enslaved by economic pressures, by the incessant demands of life from a hundred directions, by our own internal drives? Egypt
God calls us to step out of this slavery into freedom, and this stepping out is the covenant, the Sabbath, worship. We step into a world where everything is given to us as a free gift of love, and we are invited to give everything back to Him as a free gift of love. The life of the Trinity, reproduced in creatures. And it is only from the starting point that we can even begin to understand the liturgy and know how to approach it properly.