Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting
2 Corinthians 5: 14-17 All things are made new
Mark 4: 35-41 Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.
“Who can this be, even the wind and the sea obey him?”
In the light of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on Global Warming and the Environment this week, we could ask the same question of ourselves and our leaders. We seem to have imagined that we were in charge of the world of nature, given that Genesis invited us to have dominion over all creatures. Pope Francs’ words this week indicate that we have taken the dominion to levels never anticipated, and that our dominion of creation is now the cause of its progressive destruction.
We can hold this thought and apply it to the leaders of industry and governments whose policies and profit-at-all-cost practices have rendered it necessary for the Pope to write such a document.
We could also question ourselves and the way in which we treat the world around us.
We still consume like there is no tomorrow, and we consume to the point that may mean there will be no tomorrow within a few short generations. We waste as much food as we consume and many of us leave the job of cleaning up after ourselves to someone else.
The storm on the Sea of Galilee was a sudden experience of danger for the disciples.
The storm that our mother the earth is now experiencing, while it includes an increase in cataclysmic weather events, is the result of several centuries of industrial and economic development, supported by the politics of the day.
In this process, almost imperceptibly, the earth has started show the signs of strain as temperatures and sea levels rise, as considerable numbers of living species of flora and fauna become extinct.
Pope Francis details some of these developments and points especially to our use of fossil fuels as a most significant contributor to this gathering storm.
He also cites our propensity for short term political gain as governments, including our own, wriggle and squirm as they try to avoid facing up to the challenges that the damage to the environment presents to us.
Both the natural and the human environment feel the damage brought about by policies and practices that put profit ahead of any other consideration.
Each of us has our own area of influence. For some of us it might be our own household use of energy, food consumption, clothing and so on. For some of us we may have some influence through a neighbourhood group. For some the local Council, for some State of Federal Government.
For most of us we may imagine our influence doesn’t stretch very far but that may not necessarily be true.
Bishop Terry Brady in his homily to our youngsters lining up for Confirmation this week, suggested that all of us together, in order to make Jesus known and loved, could raise our voices in areas where it matters. He noted that letters from Bishops, “if we’re honest don’t go that far”, and that they will not be heard as widely or effectively as our voices all raised together.
The trouble is often enough, that we can’t all agree on what’s important and what’s not, influenced as we are by the economy and politics of the day, and our own security in relation to them.
We don’t want any storms to disturb our boat-trip and if there are storms elsewhere, we’d prefer to keep them out of sight. Our own need for self-protection and our obligations regarding other needs beyond our immediate world struggle, to find their balance.
Pope Francis in his letter, is urging us to re-balance our own lives so that the life of our world might find its proper balance too.
The disciples in the boat were alarmed and fearful for their lives because Jesus was asleep through the height of the storm. When he woke up and addressed the situation, calm and good order was restored. The disciples were amazed at the result!
In our turn, we are the voice of Jesus, and for too many in the world, this voice that should mean hope, survival and more, dignity and freedom, seems to be silent, asleep, while the storms of poverty, war, displacement, the degradation of the environment, surround them.
Let’s read the Pope’s words carefully and take them to heart. Let’s then be bold enough to speak those words in whatever place and time that we can find.
You see, our salvation is not just about our little souls getting themselves to heaven. Our salvation is about the coming of the Kingdom of God. This coming Kingdom while it includes each one of us, also includes the whole of creation.
St Paul reminds us elsewhere that Jesus is the first born, not of a bunch of souls, not of a church, not of a nation, not just of the human family, but Jesus, Paul tells us, is the first born of all creation.
We pray that each of us plays our part in the coming to be of God’s Loving plan, and that we use our own unique gifts of intelligence, imagination and freedom for this universal saving purpose.
In conclusion, we re-visit the words of our Psalm today: and let’s listen prayerfully to the words in the light of our reflection just now:
Some sailed to the sea in ships to trade on the mighty waters. These men have seen the Lord’s deeds, the wonders he does in the deep.
For he spoke, he summoned the gale, tossing the waves of the sea up to heaven and back into the deep; their soul melted away in their distress.
Then they cried to the Lord in their need and he rescued them from their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper: all the saves of the sea were hushed.
They rejoiced because of the calm and he led them to the haven they desired. Let them thank the Lord for his love, the wonders he does for all peoples and all creation. (Psalm 106)