Philippians 3:20 - 4:1.
if we really believed
that we are citizens of heaven,
would we treat your earth the way we do?
If we see your Christ in all that you have made,
shouldn't we be sprucing our world up
instead of messing it up?
We are partners with you,
in your creation,
and we trust that you can set all things right.
But we also need to do our part --
to conform ourselves and our world
to your will
so that you can bring everything into your glory.
We are all your people,
called to stand firm
Help us to truly become your joy and crown,
by the way we work
to bring your heaven to earth
for the sake of all your creation.
The last time I read through paragraphs 44-47 of this week's reading, I came up with the following litany of modern woes, a sort of slam poetry summary of what Pope Francis is decrying:
Unruly growth, urban chaos, poor transportation,
noise, unhealthy neighbourhoods, visual pollution.
Gated homes, crowded slums, inefficient cities,
cement, asphalt, glass and metal, no access to beauty.
Wasted energy and water, lack of green space,
technology assuming human interaction's place.
Social breakdown, violence, new forms of aggression,
drugs and trafficking, the silent rupture of cohesion.
Digital overload, distraction, loss of identity,
lack of wisdom, deep thought, and loving community.
In an effort to make my slam poem work better, I left out quite a bit of what the Pope and friends name as contributing to society's breakdown, so I really encourage a reading of paragraphs 43-47.
Then, lest we fall into the "harmful sense of isolation" (paragraph 47) also known as 'overwhelm,' that can arise from our awareness of all this heavy stuff, we must realize that we are a big part of the solution. We can choose to stand with Christ, and listen as he asks, "Is this really the quality of life you want? How do you want your society to be? What needs to change to make it so? What are concrete steps toward changing it?"
And the slam poem changes...
|God is my light and my salvation...|
birdsong, healthy neighbourhoods, no more pollution.
Inviting homes, empty slums, highly efficient cities,
parks, trees, flowers, and a plenitude of beauty.
Energy and water saved, open growing space,
activism and conversation in our meeting place.
Friendship and happiness, no forms of aggression;
sharing what we have is the creation of cohesion.
Wise use of media helps build true identity,
wisdom, deep thought, and loving community.
Sounds like utopia... and unfortunately, to many of us been raised to think that utopia can't possibly come true. But Jesus believed in utopia. He was always saying, "The reign of God is among you." He knew how we really want to live, and showed us how to go about it -- by loving. He was always building community.
Pope Francis is also reminding us that we need to love more than just our own lives, families, and friends -- we need to love those on the margins, and everyone and everything in creation besides.
So let's ask ourselves: How can I live and love like Christ so as to bring about a higher quality of human life and a healthier society? What is one small thing I can do today to better my own neighbourhood and build community? What is one cause I can commit to? How can we all work together to make a difference?
If you have any ideas to share, as always, I'd love to hear them. Oftentimes through discussion, change takes shape... and if we want to become God's love in the world, God's glory, we'll need to change...