(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for Homily
So, suppose you’re at the check-out at the supermarket
and you look up and see that the guy bagging your groceries
is none other than - Pope Francis.
- and he’s asking you, “Paper or plastic?”
Which would you choose?
Well, we found out this week
that the pope cares about the environment - a lot!
Francis just published an “encyclical”
(that’s a major teaching document).
titled Laudato Si – which means Praise to you –
and it’s subtitled, On the care of our common home.
The common home the pope refers to is our planet: Earth.
I’ve not had an opportunity yet to read the whole thing
but what I have read (and read about it) tells me that its message
comes right out of some ancient texts like the ones we just heard.
And what’s that message?
God’s the Creator and the world belongs to him.
With Job we learned that it was God who set the limits of the oceans
and Jesus showed us he had the power, the authority,
to rebuke the wind, to quiet a violent storm and to calm an angry sea.
Creation belongs to God who shares it with us
and names us the caretakers of creation,
charged with filling the earth and subduing it
and having dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air
and all living things.
The world is ours to nourish and sustain us
and to offer us a reflection of God’s beauty in nature.
But we know that from almost the beginning we have too often opted
to appropriate for ourselves what belongs to God,
what’s on loan to us from God,
on loan to us to be cared for and shared.
This brokenness in our relationship with God can replicate itself
not only in depleted natural resources
(and perhaps even in the climate itself)
but also in a world where some have more than they need
which they waste and throw away
while so many others don’t have even enough to survive.
In fact, is it not true,
that the more we have, the more we want
and the more we easily convince ourselves
that we own what belongs to God,
that what we’ve been given to share – is ours to keep.
That was precisely the temptation in the garden of Eden.
The tempter promised the man and woman,
“If you eat the fruit of this tree, you will be like gods.”
And they fell for it, forgetting that they were already made
in the image and likeness of God himself.
And we fall to the same temptation:
when we take what is God’s and claim it as our own;
when we waste what we have and neglect the needs of others;
when we build our wealth on the backs of those
who have little or no share in the harvest.
How quickly and how easily, in our own estimation,
we set ourselves up as little gods,
owners and controllers of people as well as of our possessions,
in our families, at work, at school, in our neighborhoods,
in our parish, in our volunteer and charitable endeavors,
and in managing our personal finances and resources.
Pope Francis is asking us a question running much deeper than,
“Paper or plastic?”
He’s calling us to radically reevaluate:
• our relationship with the Creator
and our presumptions about our possessions;
• our care for, or abuse of, the universe, the planet,
God has entrusted to us,
• and our relationship with, and our responsibility to,
those with whom we share our common home, Earth,
especially any who are denied a fair share of God’s gifts
on account of the carelessness or greed or wastefulness of others.
No Christian truth ever stands in isolation from the whole of truth -
and so it is here, too.
We immediately recognized that in Charleston, South Carolina,
the sanctuary of God’s people at prayer
was tragically and grievously violated.
Murder was committed – and sacrilege as well -
because the deed was done in such a holy place.
There is no sin against the sacred environment
of God’s creation and grace
greater than the taking of innocent human life.
Francis is calling us to broaden our understanding
of what constitutes a holy place, a sanctuary of God’s presence.
He’s reminding us that our world is God’s sanctuary
and we’re called to cherish, care for and esteem all of creation.
Everyone and everything that lives and breathes –
is holy… God’s handiwork… sacred…
The question then isn’t “paper or plastic?”
Rather, the questions are these:
• Who’s the source of all that I have – and how am I grateful?
• For what purpose, to what end, have I been given what that I have?”
• Am I a faithful, generous caretaker of nature and my possessions
or a careless hoarder of resources
resources that others desperately need?
• Have I faith enough to trust the Lord
even when he seems to be asleep through the storms of my life?
We are about to move to the Lord’s table
to celebrate and receive the greatest gift,
the greatest spiritual resource that is ours in faith
– the Eucharist.
In Laudato Si, Francis wrote this week:
It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created
finds its greatest exaltation.
Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly,
found unsurpassable expression
when God himself became man
and gave himself as food for his creatures.
The Lord… chose to reach our intimate depths
through a fragment of matter.
He comes not from above, but from within,
he comes that we might find him in this world of ours.
In the Eucharist… is the living centre of the universe,
the overflowing core
of love and of inexhaustible life…
The Eucharist joins heaven and earth;
it embraces and penetrates all creation.
- Laudato Si, #236
May the Eucharist we celebrate and receive here
renew in us a deep and abiding reverence for the presence of God:
in the sanctuary of the universe and our own planet;
in the lives of all who deserve a rightful share in God’s creation;
and in the tabernacles of human hearts
where God himself chooses to dwell.
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