Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
September 1, 2019 – (22ndSunday in Ordinary Time)
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29 Ps. 68:4-7, 10-11 Heb 12:18-19, 22-24A Lk 14:1, 7-14
- The Season of Creation is a new Liturgical Season for the Catholic community globally as it joins the 30-year ecumenical/orthodox history of celebration under the leadership of Pope Francis and through the promotion of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
- The Season of Creation extends from September 1st, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
- The Season focuses on God as Creator of the vast cosmic universe, God’s revelation in Creation, and our response to our calling to care for God’s creation and address the urgent need to protect its rich diversity.
- This year’s theme is The Web of Life: Biodiversity as God’s Blessing.
- At this time, the Catholic Church is also preparing for a Synod of Bishops in Rome on the Amazon to address new paths for the Church there and for integral ecology globally. What is happening in the Amazon affects our weather, the availability of water in many regions of the planet, and the very air we breathe, producing more than 20% of the oxygen around Earth. How we live at home affects the health of the Amazon. All is interconnected in the vast Web of Life.
- As the Church prepares for this important Synod, it is raising a number of important issues for our reflection and prayer during this year’s Season of Creation.
- On this 1stSunday of the Season of Creation, the scriptures call us to humility: humility before God, humility in our relationships with each other, and humility before God’s gift of creation in all its beauty, goodness, diversity and complexity. They warn us against competing for human respect and honor and remind us of God’s special love and care for the poor.
Penitential Rite Suggestion
(It should be noted that although the Roman Missal gives various optional formulations for the penitential rite, it also allows for “other invocations. These are intended to help shape the community’s repentance” in accord with the scriptural message of the day.)
Conscious of God’s loving presence and great gifts to us, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits and pray for wisdom, humility, forgiveness and healing. [silentpause]
- Creator God, You have entrusted the human family with the richly diverse gifts of creation, asking us to receive them with gratitude and care for them wisely and well.
Creator Spirit of God, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, You have warned us against pride and competing for honor. You have urged those with resources to share them with people who are poor, in need, and vulnerable.
Word of God, have mercy.
- Holy Spirit of God, You are at work in us and among us making us more conscious of the sacredness of all creation, raising up a global movement in these times to care for Earth, our common home, and bring to birth Your New Creation.
Wisdom of God, have mercy.
May God, the Creator of all cosmic time and space and the vast Web of Life in which we live, have mercy on us, free us from our sins, and guide us into the fullness of divine Life. Amen.
Points for Reflection on the Scriptures
- Sirach warns us to conduct our affairs with humility and not to seek what is too sublime. Jesus points out that those who exalt themselves will be humbled.
- Pope Francis has frequently warned against the technocratic mentality that approaches creation as simply resources to be used to meet human needs and desires. Without humility before nature, people have too often been inadequately aware of or sensitive to the complex interconnections that make up the Web of Life. Serious unforeseen and unintended consequences, like the warming of the planet and subsequent destructive climate change, are the result of inadequate humility before nature.
- The preparatory documents for the Synod on the Amazon criticize the human pride/arrogance of turning creation [whether the Amazon or anywhere else] into simply a storehouse of resources for pursuing flawed notions of “progress” and “development.” This mindset and attitude have created the crises we face.
- The mindset needed to serve the mission of caring well for the Web of Life will grow out of a contemplative spirituality that is rooted in humble openness and curiosity about individual creatures, one that sparks amazement, grows in consciousness of the parts of the web of reality within which those creatures thrive and upon which they depend, celebrates the mystery of it all, and matures into love and gratitude for creation.
- What in nature stirs humility and awe in you? A beautiful sunset? A powerful storm? A bird in song? The effortless circling high above of a hawk or the amazing sharpness of its hawk-eye vision? Two geese caring for and raising their brood of young?
- What in nature delights you, makes you want to talk about it, gives you a sense of mystery, evokes your love?
- In the Gospel, Jesus warns against self-promotion and competition for wealth, social recognition and acceptance. These motivations often drive the destructive patterns of production, consumerism, and a culture of waste.
- Consumerism is a powerful cultural and social force driving ecological destruction and promoting what Pope Francis has called the destructive “throwaway culture.”
- Evidence of the destructive power and dangerous extent of consumerism can be seen in “Earth Overshoot Day” which is now proclaimed each year to indicate the day on which the human community has used up all the renewable resources that Earth can reproduce in a year. For 2019, Earth Overshoot Day was July 29th. This means that in seven months, the human community has used up what it will take Earth a year to replenish. This pattern of consumption is clearly not sustainable.
- Humility and respectful relationships are, in the Judaeo-Christian vision, more important and respected than being wealthy, giving gifts, etc. As the passage from Sirach says, “… conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.” [Sirach 3:17]
- How do you live out this conviction in your day-to-day decisions? When is it a struggle for you? Who in your life truly believes and clearly lives the conviction that loving relationships are more important than accumulating wealth and consumer goods? What enables them to live that way?
- Those who live in poverty suffer most from ecological destruction and overproduction. Psalm 68 speaks of God restoring the land for the poor and needy, God’s special love for the poor is a major theme of the scriptures and Catholic Social Tradition.
- In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to share what we have with the needy and vulnerable rather than using our resources to entertain those who can repay us.
- In Catholic belief and teaching, the gifts of Creation have been given for all, especially the needy and vulnerable. This is called “The universal destination of the goods of creation” in the language of Catholic Social Teaching.
- In the Amazon as in many regions, God’s special love for the poor invites us to respect the indigenous peoples who lived for tens of thousands of years in harmony with creation. As Jesus taught, “they who humble themselves will be exalted.” They remained humble before the mysteries of creation and lived successfully within the Web of Life without destroying or degrading it. The world needs to respect and learn from them in these times rather than looking down on them as “primitive” or backward.
- Can the human community today learn from the poor and from native peoples how to live more respectfully and sustainably as part of the Web of Life? How?
- How are indigenous peoples and those living in poverty embracing the wisdom of their traditions and sharing it?
General Intercessions Petitions
- That we may grow in consciousness of the great gift of creation and all of its elements, we pray…
- That we may deepen our gratitude for nature’s rich Web of Life within which we live and may grow in openness to wiser and more just ways of caring for it and sharing it, we pray…