The Greatest Work of God

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The Greatest Work of God

In the beginning…the earth was a formless wasteland… (Genesis 1:1)

            The rich and imaginative account of creation found in the Book of Genesis treats us to a picture of a busy God crafting the universe: separating the waters and bringing forth vegetation; filling  it with fish and birds; placing a sun and moon in the sky and, finally, creating those who will populate the earth: “male and female he created them.”  After that, God rested, but not for long.  Instead, all through the centuries God labored for the earth’s people—bringing them out of the slavery of Egypt, providing them with everything they needed in the Promised Land.  Later, God’s greatest labor of love was to send Jesus to redeem us when the original plan failed through the fault of  the very ones created to glorify their maker.             Surprisingly, Jesus introduced us to an even greater work of God: “This is the work of God: have faith in the One who was sent” (Jn. 6:29).  But, is not belief in Jesus our work?  No, not really.  Faith is a gift which, for us, is gift-wrapped in Jesus.  If this is so, it seems belief would be easy.  Not so.  Gifts must be received and faith is one of the hardest gifts for us to receive.  On the surface, it might not seem hard to accept belief in Jesus, the Word of God, but surrendering to it in everything—especially in small matters—seems next to impossible.  In moments when we are desperate and there is no one else to turn to, then we turn to God, but in the everyday events of life we are quite self-sufficient, thank you!             If a friend of mine is dying of cancer, I pray that God will restore her to health or give her a peaceful death.  On the other hand, when I am anxious about meeting a deadline or some other petty matter, I take charge myself.  Why bother God with such trivialities?  The reason is that God wants to be in all our thoughts and actions, even the smallest.  Indeed, persuading ourselves to surrender our entire lives to God is the greatest work!

Jesus, increase my faith!

Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB


Sister Mary E. Penrose, OSB

Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.



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“Before all, and above all, attention shall be paid to the care of the sick, so that they shall be served as if they were Christ Himself.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict