‘Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.’ He presents us with a challenge. We all know that the environment is in crisis, so how will this generation answer the call to care for our common home? Lord, help us to be mindful of how we treat this fragile planet you have given us as our beautiful home.
Tuesday (Caring for)
We live in a world fuelled by consumerism. Pope Francis stated that we are ‘drunk with consumerism, appearance and extravagance’. We are called to a ‘conversion’ – a change of attitude – metanoia. ‘Let ours be a time to be remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life.’ Let us strive to care for our common home.
Wednesday (Watching over)
In his letter, Pope Francis ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ Many people today are suffering and poor. One of the greatest injustices in the world is the lack of clean water. Last year Irish people spent €76.5 million on bottled water, most of it unnecessarily. It takes nearly one thousand years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade. Do we take water for granted? Lord, help us to be grateful for water, so that we do not waste it or cause the environment to become ever more clogged with plastic. Help us to build a cleaner, fairer world.
In the Book of Genesis we are told that God made us ‘stewards’ over creation. Every living thing has a purpose – a value. ‘Each creature reflects something of God and has a message to convey to us.’ By virtue of our creation, we have an obligation to care for our common home. Pope Francis assures us that ‘humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home’. This is not simply about every human being’s relationship with the world; it is also about every human being’s relationship with the poor. He describes us as an ‘interdependent’ world.
‘Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start … we are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts.’ Protecting our common home gives us a sense of ‘feeling at home’ – a feeling of family.
St Matthew said, ‘Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.’
Diakonia, or service, is central to Christian teaching, as we are called, living out the example of Jesus, to serve one another. Pope Francis states clearly that the right to private property comes with a ‘social mortgage’. He teaches us that we must focus on the common good in our common home as the common good is at the heart
of sharing. With this in mind, think about a family, either real or on television, that is warm, inviting and loving. This is what the term ‘common home’ means: our family. This is ‘one world’ with a ‘common plan’.