Sunday, August 18, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Christ's fire in our hearts

This week's reflection is brought to you by
Luke 12:49-53.

You came to bring fire to the earth,
O Christ,
but not the fires blazing due to climate change.

Your fire
is the fire that should burn
in each of us --
fire for justice and peace,
fire for community and harmony,
fire for equality and goodness,
beauty and truth.

But we are divided
by our desires
and what you want for us.

Help us to see
as the source of all goodness
and to put it,
not possessions,
as the center of our lives.

Let your true fire
burn within us.


* * * * * * *

This week's piece of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, fits quite well with Sunday's gospel reading in that it focuses on Chapter 2, section 7, The Gaze of Jesus (you can access the entire document by clicking here). Paragraphs 96-100 have me thinking about what it would be like to see our present world through Jesus' eyes. What would our world be like if the fire of  Jesus' love, the fire that burns through all the clutter in our society and in our hearts and souls, was our guiding force?

I like this section of the encyclical, because it reminds me that if Jesus and I were to go for a walk, he'd be as happy as I am to walk down to the river and just watch the ducks for a while. He might like spreading soil amendment from my compost pile, and eating garden vegetable soup at our dinner table. But what would he think of all our computer gadgets? The noise of traffic? How my husband is stressing about impending job cuts under our new Premier?

Paragraph 96 says that Jesus was always reminding his disciples of the intimate relationship between God and God's creatures. In the scriptures he often reminds us about how God clothes the lilies in splendor, notices every sparrow -- and counts every hair on our heads.

Jesus also "often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive a divine message in things," says paragraph 97, to the point of using creation in his teachings and parables and thus indicating that he was a nature-lover who was deeply aware of and in love with the great Lover who had created everything around him.

In paragraph 98, Pope Francis and his letter-writing team note that "Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed" -- the others, of course, being those who witnessed him walking on water, calming the storms, and enjoying the fruits of the earth. Jesus wasn't someone who "despised the body, matter and all the things of the world" -- he noticed and appreciated life in a holistic way. And yet, there are long periods in Christianity where so-called spiritual ideals were elevated so far above ordinary moments of daily life -- like birth, death, sleep, sex, food, drink and work -- that "unhealthy dualisms... disfigured the Gospel."

The end of paragraph 98 notes that Jesus was a carpenter who spent a lot of his life as a labourer, endowing work with a holiness of its own. He didn't let big theological ideas unbalance his love for life as a whole even though he was God. He was able to see the big picture, and the way he lived gave extra dignity to our human existence and its day-to-day work and play.

I like the idea of Jesus
being part of the Green movement.
No idea where this photo-shopped pic
originated, but kudos to the person
who created it!
The fact that Jesus came to live in the middle of creation gives everything a sacredness: "One person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing his lot with it, even to the cross... Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy" (paragraph 99). The fact that God entered creation as a human being is a sign of how loved and valued we and the rest of creation are. God didn't create the universe and leave us on our own, but joins in the life we live and knows firsthand what creation is all about. Jesus saw -- and continues to see -- the world through eyes like ours.

The section concludes with paragraph 100, which says "the risen One is mysteriously holding [the creatures of this world] to himself and directing them toward fullness as their end." But what does an earth living out of this kind of fullness look like? How does Jesus see it? The old question, "What Would Jesus Do?" applies not only to our relationships with each other, but also to how we treat our earth and live our lives.

So here's an exercise for the week ahead. Let's imagine that Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and son of God, moves in next door. What kind of house does he build for himself? How big is his moving van? What are his yard and garden like? Who are his friends? How does he entertain them? What does he buy at the grocery store? How does he travel around? What are the key issues affecting his vote in our next election? What does he wear? How does he spend the bulk of his time? How does he care for our earth?

And then we can imagine our lives changing to match his... and we can continue to live with his fire burning in our hearts, for all of creation's sake.

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