1st Sunday in Lent – Feb 26, 2023
Last weekend, we explored how to tough love challenges us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors.
This weekend, as we begin our Lenten series, entitled, “that we might live justly, like God,” we’ll explore the justice required of us in our environmental and planetary stewardship and our stewardship of all creation. What better place to start than with a story about a question a little girl asked her mother.
On the way home from church, she asked, “Mommy, is it true that we’re all made of dust?”
“Yes, darling, it is.” replied the mother.
“And is it also true that when we die, we go back to dust again?”
“Yes, darling, it is.” replied her mother.
“Well mommy, I think you should know, that when I said my prayers last night, I looked under my bed, and I found someone who’s either coming or going!” (The World’s Greatest Collection of Clean Jokes, Bob Phillips)
Yes, whether we like it or not, we’re all a part of creation! We’re all members of the animal kingdom. We’re all connected to every living and non-living thing on this planet and beyond, and to the whole of the immensity of God’s creation that transcends, even beyond the stars!
It’s from this particular conviction of interconnectedness that we’re meant to reflect on our first reading from Genesis 2: 7 where we hear, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2: 7)
And just two verses later, we hear,
“Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food and the tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9)
—-2 verses have in common
the notion that God created out of the ground, out of dust.
all things are intricately connected to one another.
our responsibility to be stewards of all that God had made and has given to us,
to embrace the gift of eternal life (Tree of Life)
to embrace God’s wisdom and guidance (Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil)
to protect, care, sustain, & nurture life & the biodiversity that exists on our planet
Due to human sinfulness, we were tempted….
–to let greed, selfishness, and a hunger for power derail us from the original plan that God had for our existence and the existence of everything other living thing on planet earth.
–to be the master of our own destiny take us far away from the interdependence God sought to imbue all life in its many forms.
–to allow corrupt governments and unaccountable corporate interests in developed nations ravish the lands of the poor and the powerless of their natural resources and displace persons from their ancestral lands.
This is not what God envisioned when he created humankind and all life on our planet.
Stand for the Land, part of the Create Hope campaign of D & P seeks to organized the poor and enable them to exercise their full rights and autonomy over their ecologically sustainable territories, particularly in Columbia, where nearly 10% of the planet’s biodiversity and aquatic resources are found, and also in Honduras where land defenders have been killed with impunity since the coup d’etat in 2009.
In support of this fight for ecological justice, Pope Francis writes in Laudato Sii, “It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave, in its wake, a better world and an integrally higher quality of life, cannot be considered progress. Frequently, in fact, people’s quality of life actually diminishes – by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources – in the midst of economic growth. (LS 194)
The pope also warns about the injustices inherent in ignoring God’s vision for the way we are intended to relate to nature itself when he writes, “Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge, as part of reality, the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God, and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”. (JP2 Centessimus Annus) (LS 117)
We see that provocation already being played out in the climate crisis and the increase in environmental disasters such as have never been recorded before in human history.
What’s the solution to all these woes? Very Simple.
—We need to return to God as our Creator!
—We need to embrace his saving Word!
—As Christians, we need to look to the New Adam, Jesus Christ, who shows us the path forward to life, to peace, and to justice, a path that leads to the Kingdom of God!
Indeed, St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “Just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all people.” (Romans 5: 18)
As Christians, Pope Francis urges us to embrace the Earth Charter developed by the nations at the Hague. In the charter, he quotes, “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life”. (Earth Charter, the Hague) (LS 207)
Next weekend, we’ll explore the injustice of forced displacement of persons due to war, threats of violence, and lack of respect for the dignity of human life.
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