Second Sunday of the Season of Creation

September 10, 2023 | 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 33:7-9
Ps. 95:1-2, 6-9
Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 18:15-20

In the first reading, Ezekiel describes God’s warning to himself and to us: we are responsible for each other. If we hear and fail to relay God’s Word, God’s call to conversion to those for whom it is intended, we will be held responsible and complicit in their sin and in the suffering and punishment it brings.

One of Pope Francis’s central beliefs at the heart of Laudato Si’ is that everything and everyone is connected, interdependent. We are responsible for each other. God speaks to us and calls us to conversion in many ways. In the context of the Season of Creation, we need to listen to that Word of God in “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” (L.S. 49)

The cry of the Earth, heard in increasingly powerful storms and fires, melting ice and rising sea levels, heat waves, droughts and floods, pollution of air and water, loss of rich biodiversity and ecological degradation. 

The cry of the poor, heard and seen in widespread hunger and malnutrition, in homelessness and ill health, exploitation and vast migration and refugee flows, violence and ecological destruction of the most marginal regions where the poor are so often forced to struggle for survival. 

How do we, how can we educate and warn ourselves and each other about the ecological crises facing us and threatening life as we know it on the planet? What reliable and understandable sources of information are most helpful? What ecological education programs are available through the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and other trustworthy sources?

How do we, how can we understand and warn each other about our part, our responsibility for the destructive forces at work? 

What is the conversion in ways of thinking, acting, and living together on Earth that God is calling us to? What are the changes in lifestyle and relationships with each other and with the gift of creation?

What individuals, groups, communities, parishes, institutions, corporations, media, social movements, etc. will help me/us to grow in this mission?

To what individuals, groups, communities, parishes, institutions, corporations, media, social movements, etc. am I called to speak out, educate, warn of God’s prophetic Word in the cry of the poor and the cry of Earth?

St. Paul’s letter to the Romans puts this prophetic education and invitation to care for creation in their deepest context: they are expressions of the great commandments that sum everything up: Love God. Love your neighbor.

All is interdependent, all is interconnected. We cannot say we love God if we do not love our neighbor. We cannot say we love our neighbor if we do not care for the air, the water, the land, the ecological systems, the intricate Web of Life upon which our neighbors and we depend for life itself. 

Nor can we say we love God if we do not care for God’s gift of creation in all its wonders and richness. 

How can we, how do we express this prophetic, nonviolent love in our families? In our parishes and dioceses? In our religious communities? In our schools and universities? In our hospitals and health care centers? In our businesses and farms?

In the gospel, Jesus lays out a way to convey the urgent prophetic warnings in this time of great violence and ecological crisis, an approach that shows respect for those who need to hear these truths and invites conversion gently but persistently.

At the same time, the approach is realistic: there will be those who will not listen. The prophetic word around these issues is far too important and urgent to get bogged down in endless arguments with those who, in the words of the psalm, have hardened their hearts. Move on to where the work of conversion to nonviolence, ecological conversion, and the growth of the new creation can find fertile ground and produce a hundredfold.

Christ calls us together too in prayer, promising to be with us, promising us that our prayer will be heard. Let our prayer deepen our awe and reverence before God, who is revealed so powerfully in creation. 

Faith Reflections

Are you among those who believe in God who creates all things, renews all things, and celebrates all things? 

Are you among those who believe in God who has given the gift of creation, Earth as a sanctuary, a sacred planet filled with God’s presence, as a home for us to share with all members of the Earth family?

Are you among those who believe in Jesus, God become flesh and blood, a human part of Earth, who lived and breathed and spoke among us, who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount to live nonviolently, who suffered and died on a cross for all human beings and for all the gift of creation?

Are you among those who believe in Jesus, the risen Christ, who is at the heart of creation reconciling all things to God, renewing all creation, and filling the universe?

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

Are you among those who believe that with Christ we will rise and with Christ we will celebrate a new 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