Sunday, July 17, 2016

Laudato Si: Sunday Reflection #47... And now, a word from our sponsors

We're almost there, my friends, just a few paragraphs from the end of Pope Francis's encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. This week's two sections make me chuckle a bit, because they seem like the advertisements at the end of a TV program -- hence the title of this reflection.

The first section, paragraphs 238-240, is titled The Trinity and the Relationship Between Creatures, and the second, paragraphs 241-242, is Queen of All Creation (they can be accessed by clicking here and scrolling down). To me, it feels like the encyclical writers, good Catholics that they are, decided they had better hurry up and make mention of Mary and the Trinity before closing time. Even so, these two sections contain some good reminders for those of us who aspire to follow the will of the Triune God, and who take Mary as a model of how to do that.

Paragraphs 238-240 remind us that God is the source of everything, that Jesus is God united to creation through his humanity, and that the Holy Spirit, who blew over the waters of creation is the one responsible for "inspiring and bringing new pathways." When we give thanks for creation, we are praising all three persons of our One God. When we are one with God, we will see the deeper inter-connectedness of God's "constant and secretly woven relationships" throughout creation. What a time that will be! The eleventh and final refrain of the "Everything is interconnected" Laudato Si song is heard once again, calling us to relationship and "a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity."

The summer I was fourteen, our family took a trip to the West Coast and visited an aquarium where an injured young killer whale was recovering. At some point (I think while the trained seals were doing a show) I wandered by myself back to the young whale's pool. A piece of straggly sea weed floated near its edge, and I was able to grab it and toss it to the middle of the pool. The whale brought it back to me, and waited for me to throw it again, which I did, over and over. I remember feeling sad for the whale, living in a small enclosure instead of with its pod out in the open ocean -- but I was even sadder that we couldn't communicate. A bit of global solidarity inspired by the Trinity? It was a spiritual experience, or I probably wouldn't remember it today. And one day, when the new heaven and the new earth come about, communication with all of creation won't be an issue, of that I am convinced. We will all know how interconnected everything is!

As Mother of God, Mary stands with the crucified Christ once again as she "grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power." In paragraph 241 the encyclical writers note that her human life, lived according to God's will, is one part of creation that has "reached the fullness of its beauty.... Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom."

Of course, since St. Joseph is Mary's partner and the patron of the universal Church, it wouldn't do to forget about him. As caregiver of the Holy Family, "he too can teach us how to show care, he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us."

In reading these paragraphs this week, I can't help but think that it's a call to humility for those of us who take up the challenge to work for change, for justice, and for the good of all creation. Perhaps you've heard that saying, "We must pray as if it all depends on God, and work as if it all depends on us." But these paragraphs seem to reverse that -- we must pray as if it all depends on us, and work as if it all depends on God. It is God's creation, and it is God who gives the success. Otherwise, our activist egos might get in the way and sabotage the change that is required. Oh heck, everything depends on God, doesn't it?

In the week ahead, whenever we run into news about environmental or human disasters, let's pause and put them into the hands of "our sponsors" before we look for possible solutions. Let's pray as if it all depends on us to ask for the Spirit's help and inspiration (because without God we can do nothing), and then let's be God's hands and feet and get to work!

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

(A prayer for our earth and all quotations from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home © Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

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