Silvanus and Virna sit beside the dying Cerbonius.
He takes their hands and nods for some moments. “I have much I would wish to say to young people such as yourselves about the primal concerns and dangers of life.”
“Good Father, we are eager to learn whatever you think important.”
“First, let us remember that Almighty God created this earth for His pleasure and judged His work to be very good. All His handiwork, from the silk thread supporting this spider …” – Virna starts, then gently moves the intruder to the side – “… to our friend the sun and all the heavenly bodies … all things reveal His wisdom, His love and His power.
“That is why it is profitable to observe nature … and also to study the works of honorable pagan philosophers. I have Aristoteles’ incomparable Historia Animalium in my library at Marcus’s house, as well as Plinius’ master work Naturalis Historia. The meticulous research and wise reflections of such scholars have opened many eyes to the wonders of God’s creation.
“Let us also not forget that all things which exist – especially we, His crowning creatures, man and woman, old and young – reflect His image, as the pupil of an eye reflects the image of an observer. And He wishes us to enjoy our time on this wonderful earth He made for us, in fellowship with Him.
“Yet we are flawed. The eyes of our spirits are darkened and we often fail to recognise His kindness. Sometimes it is our selfishness or our wilful disobedience that blinds us. In the past, He gave His chosen people guidelines by which they could remain in fellowship with Him and live together in harmony. But time and time again they ignored them and worshipped other gods. He warned them through various prophets to mend their ways but still they rebelled, so that in the end He allowed them to be defeated and taken into exile.
“In these last days, however, He has spoken to us by His Son, my Friend Jesus. He came to fulfill the ancient Law and introduce a regime of Grace. Nevertheless, the principles of the Old Covenant remain valid in general, though they may now be understood as recommendations for a wholesome life rather than as obligations. An example is the old prohibition of doing work on the seventh day; Jesus emphasised that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man, not man for the Sabbath. It is wise to take one day a week for rest, recreation and to spend time with our Heavenly Father, but this should not be a burden.
“And so it is that Jesus taught His friends, ‘Every teacher of the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’
“Thus, we do well to heed the ancient wisdom as well as the truths revealed by the Lord Jesus.”