Fifth Sunday of the Season of Creation

October 1, 2023 | 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 18:25-28
Ps. 25:4-9
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 21:28-32

Reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. Our decisions for evil or for good matter to God.

The message Ezekiel is affirming is that the major decisions affecting the direction of our lives — even late in life — are matters of life and death for us. Our decisions matter. God pays attention to personal responsibility.

It is never too late in life to respond to God’s call to conversion. God is compassionate. But it an become too late to respond to the cry of Earth and prevent the devastating destruction that unjust, violent and sinful lifestyles abusing Earth and continuing planetary warming will bring about. 

How can we become more attentive to the cries of Earth reported in nearly every scientific study of the condition of our planet? 

How can we become more conscious of our economic and social values, our consumer patterns, our care for the poor and marginalized among us, and for future generations? 

And how can we turn that consciousness into effective action to limit the devastation and heal Earth?

Psalm 25 recalls God’s compassion and mercy, asking God to forget the sins and frailties of our past and show us the way we are to live. Conversion requires growing in knowledge of our violence, our sinfulness and failings. It evokes prayer for forgiveness and willing trust in God’s compassionate forgiveness.

The passage from the Letter to the Ephesians describes God’s response to the prayer to know the Way: urging unity of mind and heart, doing nothing out of selfishness, having the same attitude of humility, nonviolence and obedience that Jesus lived even to the point of death on the cross.

The example of Christ Jesus is challenging, as is his teaching on what is truly important in life. The beatitudes and the parable of the last judgment put down-to-Earth examples before us.

How do the example and teaching of Jesus call us to what Pope Francis calls an integral ecological conversion? A conversion able to bring about change in the ecological, social, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of our lives? 

As we contemplate the extent of the humility and sacrifice that Jesus embraced, do we grow in gratitude and courage?

In Matthew’s parable of the two sons, Jesus calls attention to the all too familiar reality that we may learn the right things to say, but that what matters is what we actually do, our actions. He challenges the chief priests and the elders to change and act in the way of righteousness and justice that John preached.

In this Season of Creation, what are our actions showing about how we are responding to God’s call to integral ecological conversion, to Gospel nonviolence in our relationships with Earth and with each other? 

The environmental dimensions of an integral ecological conversion:

What are we doing to reduce the pollution of air, water and land that have resulted from our ways of living in creation? What are we doing to address the violence of indifference and domination, war and militarisation that are destroying our common home?

How can we grow in a spirituality that will help us better to acknowledge, reverence, care for, and share the gifts of creation within which we live? Upon which we and all others rely for life itself?

The economic dimensions of an integral ecological conversion: 

What changes are we undertaking in the economic dimensions of our lives? How are we resisting the idolatry of wealth and possessions so common around the world?

What are we doing to help ourselves and others better understand the systems of economy and development, of production and distribution and consumption which have abused and overused the resources of the planet, are threatening its resilience, and are destroying its regenerative capacities? 

Do we need to reevaluate our habits of accumulation? How can we act to address the terrible inequalities in our society? In the global human community where billions of people live in devastating poverty? What can we do to change the unjust ways our economies distribute the resources given by God for all, to meet the basic needs of all life?

How can we grow in a spirituality that nurtures simplicity in lifestyles, structures of justice for all in our economies, and sustainable, nonviolent relations with the natural world?

The social dimensions of an integral ecological conversion: 

How can we work together to overcome the many expressions of violence in our societies? Poverty and marginalization? Racism, discrimination in our communities, our institutions, our countries? 

How can we work to overcome divisions that lead to violent conflict, war, and destruction of creation? 

How can we develop a more socially conscious spirituality, one that is attentive to the injustice in our institutions and culture, one that works to transform conflict nonviolently, one that works to raise up the New Creation?

Faith Reflections

Are you among those who believe in God who creates Earth and the Universe with all their rich diversity, beauty, and goodness, inviting our contemplation, wonder, and grateful awe?

Are you among those who believe in God who entrusts Earth to the care of the Earth community, inviting us to live together in justice, compassion, peace, and loving care?

Are you among those who believe in Jesus, who teaches us that love of God, each other, and creation sums up the meaning and value of life?

Are you among those who believe in Jesus, who insists that our love must be expressed in the nonviolent actions of compassion, nurture, and loving care?

Are you among those who believe in Jesus, God become flesh and blood, a human part of Earth, who lived and breathed, worked, prayed, and preached among us, suffered, died on a cross, and rose again, glorified, to show clearly the extent and power of God’s life and love?

Are you among those who believe in the Holy Spirit who renews life in creation, groans in empathy with a suffering creation, and waits, working with us, for the rebirth of creation?

This is our faith. Through it we see God’s revelation emerging in new ways among us. Through it we embrace the promise that our deepest spiritual longings will come to fulfillment through the Holy Spirit in the ages to come. Amen