Care of Creation. That all people of good will, especially those who make political and economic policies, may commit themselves to care for all creation.
This month Pope Benedict reminds us that we are obligated to care for our “common home,” this earth we share with all peoples of the world. To pollute, to exploit our natural resources, and to consume more than the earth can sustain — these are grave sins against the seventh commandment, “You shall not steal.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor (Paragraph 2415).
Speaking of the marvels of God’s creation as he welcomed pilgrims to World Youth Day in Sydney, Austrailia, 2008, Pope Benedict said, “Perhaps reluctantly we come to acknowledge that there are also scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption. Some of you come from island nations whose very existence is threatened by rising water levels; others from nations suffering from devastating drought.”
The Pope has said that every person of good will has a duty to build a peaceful world, avoiding “confrontation between different cultures and ethnic groups” (Benedict XVI, Sorrentino, 2006). How do we avoid confrontation with others? The Pope goes on to say that we are to put the dignity of every person foremost as we develop our economic, social, and cultural communities. We must “educate in truth and foster reconciliation wherever there has been injury.” “Sincere and truthful dialogue” will lead us step by step into the peace we seek.
Pope Benedict also affirms his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in urging prayer as a means to peace. Besides our personal, private prayers, we are to pray even with those of other religions, joining together with them in asking our universal and eternal Father for peace for the whole world.
What new efforts will you make to communicate with someone in an effort to resolve conflict and find peace in a relationship?
Psalm 85: 9-12 I will listen for the word of God; surely the Lord will proclaim peace to his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him…. Love and truth will meet, justice and peace will kiss. Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
Peace of God. That believers of every religion may witness through their lives and through dialogue that the Name of God brings peace.
We people of the earth — of all regions, races, and religions — are every one of us the children of God, the Father, who created each person in his likeness to know and love him forever. Yet we believers in God have often hated, hurt, and killed one another in God’s own name. Pope Benedict asks us to pray this month for peace in the hearts of all who believe in God. He says that when a person’s faith “reaches maturity,” whatever faith it may be, that believer will perceive that God is the loving Father of all, leading him or her to pursue peace with all people, regardless of their beliefs or behaviors (Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishop Domenico Sorrentino, 2006).
After all, our Savior, the Prince of Peace, commanded us to love one another, even our enemies. Sometimes we are tempted to believe the lie that because God is on our side, he opposes others. We come to mistrust one another, isolate ourselves, and, too often, fight. We do this in our personal relationships — person against person and family against family. We do this in our cultural relationships — gender against gender, region against region, race against race, and class against class. And, worst of all, we mistrust and fight against those who hold a different faith than we do.
Some unfairly accuse the Judeo-Christian tradition of contributing to the damage of our environment. They base the accusation on the Biblical account of God’s command to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1: 28-30). Whatever our own failings, God certainly has not commanded us to do violence to his good creation. Rather God has put us on this earth to care for it with love, cultivating it to feed and sustain all peoples, including those who will come after us. Knowing that creation is God’s gift, we Christians are right to lead the way in protecting the environment.
Let us pray that all of us — especially those who have the power to make policy — will find ways to take better care of our “common home.”
How can you help the people around you to become aware of our duty to care for the earth?
Genesis 1: 29-31 God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.
Prayer of the Month
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
— attributed to St. Francis of Assisi