THROUGH HIM ALL THINGS WERE MADE
by ERIKA AHERN
This is the last, glorious line in the Nicene Creed before we turn to the mystery of the Incarnation and our own salvation history. We are still proclaiming the revelation of Christ, the Logos, second person of the Trinity. “He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation…” (Col. 1:15).
The difficulty I find with this line is a temptation to focus on creation and the beauty of created things. But the structure of the creed actually points back through creation to the Word. The point of proclaiming that all things came to be through Christ is not to tell us more about us, but more about Him: because He is consubstantial, Christ is also co-eternal with the Father.
The Father, we have just professed, created all things—visible and invisible—but He did not act alone. At this point in the Creed, we learn and profess the mystery of the Trinity’s perfect communion of persons: the Father does nothing of Himself, just as the Son does nothing of Himself. The Father never acts alone, but in perfect communion with the Son.
And so, through the Son all things were made. That unfathomable act of creation— that moment when the Father made something from nothing—was an act of more than one person. Creation is, therefore, the fruit of love, perfect togetherness, and communion. Our only response to this doctrine can be worship: we come from the Father, through the Son, and we return to the Godhead through proclaiming Who He is. Simply to say in communion with the Church, “Through Him all things were made,” is to begin true worship.
When I think of “all things,” I predictably start with myself, my children, mountains, stars, oceans, planets … “The heavens proclaim the greatness of the Lord.” (Psalm 19:1)
But remember that our human experience of creation is in fact very limited, telescoped into 70 or 80 years and stuffed into the limits of one little (and often broken) body. To say, “I know God through creation and nature” is like saying “I know my husband through the fact that once he built a bookshelf.” It’s nice that my husband built me a bookshelf, but it would be a horrible injustice for me to say that this single creative act was the summit of his love for me. In the same way, when we say “all things” we remember that “no eye has seen” the height and breadth and depth of God’s work.
St. Paul detonates our limited conception of “all things” in his great hymn: “… for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17)
Through Christ, both this world and the next world were made. He holds them together so that we small human beings can belong to both, because His blood is more powerful than death. This world—even in its most complex and intricate workings—is a tiny, infinitesimal and passing part of “all things.” We will spend all of eternity discovering things now unseen and in constant praise of the Son.
We can say “through Him all things were made” with a sort of childlike eagerness. We are the children going to bed on Christmas Eve. We know through faith that all things have been prepared by our Father through the Son. We proclaim with confidence that, because of Who Christ is, “all things” shall be well.
What are your thoughts? What else can we learn from “Through him all things were made”?
Erika Ahern is married to Scientist Dad and with him have three girls and are expecting their first boy. She holds her BA from Catholic University and her MA in philosophy from Emory University, but neither degree has offered the sanctification she finds in her vocation as a child of God, a wife, and a mother. She is the campus coordinator for Regina Caeli Academy in Hartford, CT and writes for Catholic magazines and newspapers, including Columbia Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Catholic Exchange, and Catholic Lane. She blogs at The Philosopher Mom.
Read all the entries in the Blog Series: Credo: Professing the Creed for the Year of Faith.
Yes, We took the month of February off. We hope to be back on track and not to miss too many more weeks. Also, you may note that I got things a bit out of order and this entry in the series should have been before the previous one. Oh well. Such is the life of a mommy with five small children and not very much brain.