People living in temperate and subpolar regions are familiar with the changing of the four seasons : Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. When it is the season of autumn, the green leaves of the trees gradually turn deep brown, later yellow and towards the end of autumn, the leaves start falling.
As we were moving from one retreat center in Germany to another in South Tirol, Italy, and after that to Axams in Austria, the beautiful scenery of trees in the mountains along the way captured my attention. The leaves of the trees were of different colours – deep red, brown, golden yellow. I wondered at the beauty of the Creator who shares His beauty with His creation. Some of the trees which leaves became yellow, started already shedding its leaves, thus making a bed of golden yellow carpet at the bottom of the trees. This made me to reflect on some reality of our life. I felt as if the trees were saying: ‘We had accomplished our task; we had completed our mission for which the Lord created us. We had produced the leaves, and the fruits for the good of the people. Though we had shed our leaves which “fell down and decayed” (Jn 12,24) – today the leaves, tomorrow you ? – we still keep our gaze on heaven and glorify our Creator, while we give delight to the eyes of people..
Do we cooperate with our Creator God and fulfill the mission for which we are created? We are created to know Him, to love Him (to see Him in others and to love them too), to live for His glory and to reach Him for all eternity. “Let us press on to know the Lord”, says Prophet Hosea (Hos.6,3). Only when we know a person, we can love that person. God reveals Himself through the Bible, revealing His name “I Am Who I Am. (Ex.3,14). To the extent we know Him, to that extent is our love of the Lord deepened. Because He is love incarnate, He is patient, kind, generous, holy and all good. Since we are created in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1,27), we are given all the qualities of God, which we should enhance and express/reflect in our lifetime, thus fulfilling the purpose of our creation.
In this secular world in which we live, everything makes us live as though there were no God, no soul, no life hereafter, no heaven, no hell. It seems that all we have is this life and hence we must enjoy it to the full.
Yes, God has created the whole universe with all the beauty therein, for us to enjoy; but not at the cost of forgetting our Creator and of not fulfilling the purpose of our creation. The Holy Spirit through St. Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil.3.20). We are foreigners in this world, living as pilgrims in this Pilgrim Church. But since it is also the Militant Church where our ‘adversary’ is always at war with us (cfr.1 Pet.5,8), we need to fight against the powers of darkness and deception of the enemy who blinds our minds to the eternal reality. His intention is “to steal, destroy and kill” (Jn 10,10). He wants God’s creation to lead a life independent of the Creator as he himself has rebelled against the Creator in the beginning (Isa. 14,12-15; Ezek. 28,11-19; Rev.12,7-9). Every sin is a rebellion against God resulting in the destruction of the divine life in us. The wisdom of God warns us: “In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin” (Sirach 7,36). The mother of St. Louis IX, the king of France said to her son: ‘I would rather see you dead than to see you committing a mortal sin’. She knew very well that “nothing unclean will enter the kingdom of God” (Rev.21,27). If we do not have the kingdom experience in this life and hereafter, we miss the goal of our creation.
Now coming back to the fall of the autumn leaves, can we open our eyes of faith to see the reality that one day we have to leave the place that we lived in, the property for which we may have fought with others, the people with whom we enjoyed our lives, the status and the position which we attained even by unjust ways, our good name which we do not want to get spoiled at any cost….?? Like the trees shedding their beautiful golden yellow leaves, we too have to shed off this earthly tent. “ For we know that when the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we shall gain a dwelling by God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor.5,1).