I plan to spend a few days on Chapter 5 of On the Holy Spirit by St. Ambrose because it is beautiful. This beauty has made me realize something that I should have done long before today — the works of St. Ambrose can be found online here. Chapter 5 of On the Holy Spirit can be found here.
In the first paragraph of Chapter 5, St. Ambrose writes:
For as we are children through the Spirit, because ‘God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father; so that thou art now not a servant but a son’ (Gal 4:6, 7;) in like manner, also, every creature is waiting for the revelation of the sons of God, whom in truth the grace of the Holy Spirit made sons of God. Therefore, also, every creature itself shall be changed by the revelation of the grace of the Spirit, ‘and shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God’ (Rom 8:19, 21)
Note the implication of the role of humanity in creation: all of creation is waiting for the revelation of God through us. The Holy Spirit descends upon us at the baptismal rite where Orthodox Christians are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself. In us, this grace and sanctification can be revealed in the way we use and interact with creation. We may either use what has been given to us by God to give glory to God — to give creation back to God and therefore deliver it from the bondage of corruption — or we can shirk our role within creation and allow it to wallow in its subjugation to sin.
To put this another way, we are made in the image and likeness of God. Since He is the Creator of all things, we are invited by Him to be co-creators. This can be seen in Genesis 2:19 when God invites Adam to name all the creatures of the earth. There is a reason why wheat and grapes do not become the Body and Blood of Christ. These are given to us by God. We rework them with our hands — we co-create. Wheat becomes bread. Grapes become wine. These are offered to God and they are sanctified and changed by the Holy Spirit through our participation in God’s salvific work.
What is important to understand, and what St. Ambrose makes clear, is that it is not just humanity, nor just wheat and grapes that are capable of being sanctified. Christ came to save all creation. We, therefore, are tasked with sanctifying all that which we touch and encounter. God is revealed to all creation through the sons of God, forged and created by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Amen.