September 18, 2022, Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Liturgy: Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke (16:10-13).
Reflection by Jane Mellett, from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Sunday Liturgy Notes for SOC 2022:
If you think that all the parables of Jesus are pleasant stories about people of integrity, then today’s gospel might make you think again. In this story, a manager has been given his notice by his CEO and decides, while he still can, to even up the tables for those who are struggling to pay their debts to the company. He uses the power he still has to change the future for these debtors – and for himself. He is happy to make better arrangements for the debtors. The manager is free-spirited, a bit of a scoundrel yes, but Jesus liked scoundrels, once their efforts were put to good use. The only value the money really has is in the way it is used. He is squandering money, but he is not squandering opportunities.
When it comes to the reality of our environmental crisis, change is urgently needed at all levels of society. The science is clear: our world is warming because of human activity, giving rise to drought, famine, devastating wildfires, extreme weather events, a rise in sea levels and the displacement of millions of people. There is an urgent hunger crisis affecting 13 million people in the Horn of Africa at present, due to a drought fuelled by climate change.
On our current trajectory, many parts of our world will be uninhabitable in the decades to come. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our world today, and it has grave implications for many aspects of our lives: environmental, social, economic and political. We know that just a hundred fossil fuel companies are responsible for 70% of the carbon emissions which drive this crisis. These corporations care little for future generations. Young people are standing up to such systems, however, calling them to account, engaging in political action and challenging all of us to raise our voices for our common home. The youth climate movement tells us that change is coming whether we like it or not! They, like the manager in today’s parable, are inviting us to ‘holy mischief’.
In Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis inspires us by reminding us of our vocation to protect God’s handiwork. He says, Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” (Laudato Si’ §217). Pope Francis reminds us that we can all do something to solve the world’s problems, that each of us have a role to play, using our gifts and talents. Pope Francis tells us to never underestimate the power of small actions, those things we do in our daily lives in our homes, schools and parishes to try to live more sustainably, to walk more gently on this earth. These small actions have a ripple affect across a community and can become experiences of grace. They witness to a greater vision for our world. Let’s start this conversation in this parish / diocese. We could become an ecoparish through Eco-Congregation Ireland; we could try to achieve the Laudato Si’ Goals; we could join forces with local eco-groups / schools to find out about the actions we can take. Greta Thunberg tells us, “hope is found in action, if you want to find hope, look for action, then the hope will come”. The theme for this year’s Season of Creation is “Listen to the Voice of Creation”. One of the first things we can do is to spend more time in nature, fall in love again with the earth, so that we will be inspired to protect it, giving glory to God, the Creator. St. Francis’ of Assisi, pray for us.