Fourth Sunday of the Season of Creation
September 24, 2023 | 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ps. 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
Philippians 1:20c-24, 27a
Reading from the Prophet Isaiah. God is near to all who call upon God.
We are invited to enter into contemplative reverence in the midst of creation before the greatness of God, the source of Earth and all the universe. Contemplation of God’s creation in all its beauty, intricacy, and lavish goodness can spark love in our hearts and guide us in caring for it as it needs to be cared for.
In what ways can we grow in consciousness of God’s gifts and presence in creation?
How can we grow in an ecological spirituality, discover and deepen our sense of wonder, praise, joy, and gratitude before God in creation? Ecological spirituality is one of the seven main goals developed in Laudato Sí and featured on the Laudato Sí Action Platform.
How can we become less violent in the ways we approach Earth, each other, and all Earth’s other inhabitants? Nonviolence is a process for nurturing conversion to right relationships within ourselves, among humans and between humans and the rest of the natural world – away from the common ways of domination and exploitation toward a “civilization of love.”(Laudato Si’ #231)
The Laudato Sí Movement website offers many resources for personal and community prayer and study, as does the Education for Justice website, a project of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, and the website of Pax Christi’s Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.)
How might we develop and promote creation-centered liturgical celebrations? Retreats? Education programs?
Do we call upon God for forgiveness? For wisdom in living more sustainably, more justly, and more generously upon Earth? In what ways do we and our communities contribute to the current ecological crises? In what ways do we contribute to overcoming the crises and bringing healing and new life to the communities of creation?
Isaiah’s urgent call to seek God while God is near and can be found resonates deeply with the warnings of climate experts for these times: that “only with rapid and far-reaching transitions in the world economy, on a scale and at a rate without historical precedent,” can humanity avoid the tipping points that will bring great devastation to life around Earth.
Do we understand and feel the sense of urgency? Do we see and experience the dangers? What study and other ways of growing in understanding do we need to Undertake?
How can we and our communities reconcile ourselves with God, with each other, and with creation through concrete repentance, conversion and urgent, organized, nonviolent action?
In our lifestyles? Through social outreach, social media? By studying the needs of our localities, regions, ecosystems? Through joining peoples’ campaigns and nonviolent social movements locally and globally?
Through political advocacy locally, nationally, globally? In our families? In businesses and organizations? In our schools, educational institutions, and faith communities? In our financial activities and organizations? In our health care systems? As part of the global Laudato Sí Action Platform movement? By deepening our understanding of and commitment to nonviolence as a spirituality, a way of life in relationship with all creation, and a spectrum of diverse, effective approaches to healing and protecting Earth?
The parable of the Landowner and the Workers. God’s ways are not our ways. The parable in the gospel in which the owner of the vineyard gives a full day’s wage to all, regardless of how long they worked, often stirs complaints about fairness.
But those who worked the longest, the whole day, received what they had agreed was a just wage.
The wages of day laborers are often all that their family has to survive on for a given day; and so the generosity of the vineyard owner served to meet the people’s basic daily needs.
This parable shows us a compensation system based on the agreed-upon value of certain work and care to meet the basic needs of all workers. It is not based upon comparative, competitive, unlimited accumulation.
God’s ways challenge us. A central belief of the Catholic Social Tradition confesses that the Earth is God’s and everything in it. Creation is a gift of God to all people and living creatures, a gift to provide for the needs of all for survival, growth, and flourishing.
The right to private property is not absolute. To accumulate and cling to more than one needs while others live in desperate poverty is a serious sin against creation and the Creator. It is the situation of human life on Earth today: a grave pattern of injustice that is itself a type of violence, undermining peace and survival planet-wide.
Climate change today is a result of the coming together of violent economic and social systems driven by greed and accumulation, governed to protect inequality, and built upon domination and destruction of Earth. Those systems, as already noted, exploit far more resources in a few months than Earth can replenish in a year.
The biblical vision of Jubilee was chosen as the theme for a previous year’s celebration of the Season of Creation because, in the words of the international ecumenical steering committee, “Jubilee is a time to renounce overconsumption and economic systems based on constant economic growth at the cost of the Earth and those who are poor.”
“Jubilee is a time of rest for the land from constant exploitation, to restore ecosystems and people.”
“The theme of Jubilee affirms the need for equality, justice and sustainability, and a transition of sustainable economies.”
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, Pope Francis reflects on the 2023 theme for the Season of Creation, “Let justice and peace flow,” and asks:
How can we contribute to the mighty river of justice and peace in this Season of Creation? What can we, particularly as Christian communities, do to heal our common home so that it can once again teem with life? We must do this by resolving to transform our hearts, our lifestyles, and the public policies ruling our societies.
He goes on to conclude, “Economic policies that promote scandalous wealth for a privileged few and degrading conditions for many others, spell the end of peace and justice.”
How can we and our communities embrace God’s ways of justice, peace, and jubilee here, now? How can we do more to heal our relationships with God, with people, with Earth in ways that respond with love and care to the cry of the poor and the cry of Earth? How can we practice Gospel nonviolence in all our relationships?
In our lifestyles? Through social outreach, social media? By studying the needs of our localities, regions, ecosystems? Through joining peoples’ campaigns and social movements locally and globally? Through political advocacy locally, nationally, globally?
In our families? In businesses and organizations? In our schools, educational institutions and faith communities? In our financial activities and organizations? In our health care systems? As part of the global Laudato Sí Action Platform movement?
One of the seven major goals of Laudato Sí featured on the Laudato Sí Action Platform is known as Ecological Economics and calls for “sustainable production and consumption, ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity harmful to the planet and the people, supporting circular economies, and prioritizing care labor and protecting the dignity of workers.” Learning nonviolence and practicing to live nonviolently will help us to understand and accept such a major shift in economic life.
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 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 calls us to live in ways that provide justice to all and generous compassion to those most in need?
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