REPRESENTATIONS OF GOD'S GOODNESS

St. Thomas Aquinas

On this feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), I want to share something from this giant philosopher/theologian’s writings which I find remarkable. It should give us reason to pause and re-think what we are doing to creation as a species.

When pondering the sheer diversity and magnitude of life on Earth, Aquinas said God made creation this way so that God’s “goodness might be communicated to creatures, and be represented by them.” Moreover, he added, “Because God’s goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, God produced many and diverse creatures, that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another.” (Summa Teologica, Question 47)

In celebration of today’s feast, let us consider what Aquinas is saying here: divine goodness is distributed among all creation, each subject representing some aspect of divinity. When we destroy the diversity of life found on Earth – whether through increased carbon emissions, mining, tearing down forests, polluting waters, warming our oceans – we are not just terminating countless animals, creepy crawlies, trees and fish, but representations of God’s goodness.

Simon Appolloni, Associate Publishing Director  

For further reading, check out these titles: For Earth’s Sake: Towards a Compassionate Ecology; Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community and Reupholstered Psalms: Ancient Songs Sung New

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