A characteristic of a classic is that it is able to say far more than the original author intended. This is evident in Paul's letter to the Romans (8:18-25). I see that this text speaks to modern-day Christians in at least two ways that Paul could not have understood or imagined. First of all, Paul could not have had any understanding of theories of evolution and how these have shaped our appreciation for the age and complexity of the universe. Yet, his notion of how the entire creation "has been groaning in one great act of giving birth" speaks very much to our modern sense of how the universe continues to evolve through processes of expansion and collapse, growing and dying. Secondly, Paul speaks of how the original sin of our first human ancestors has infected all of creation. Again, this speaks to how human activity has and continues to contribute to the damage being done to our planet. Our sinful behavior affects God's creation and we can see this in ways that would have been far beyond the comprehension of Paul. Yet his text inspires us to reach back to this ancient letter and discover how God continues to speak to us across the centuries in ways that challenge us to honestly look at what we are presently doing to our planet. Furthermore, an appreciation of these processes of evolution and honest admission of human guilt can help us to envisage that it is a process that calls for the revelation or the unveiling of our true destiny as children of God who care very deeply for the future of God's creation.
Columban Fr. Tom Rouse provided this reflection.