5th OT, Creation, 2023

After listening to our first reading about God creating this beautiful world in which we live, I think those of us who are blessed to live in Florida, especially in the winter months, feel very grateful that we can enjoy the beauty of creation all year long.

In May, 2015, Pope Francis raised our awareness of the beauty and fragility of Mother Earth when he wrote his famous encyclical “Laudato Si” in which he calls the world our ‘common home’. By that phrase, he means that all people and the planet are part of one family… and Earth is our ‘common home’.

What a simple, meaningful, and humble phrase:  ‘our common home’.  We all know how we care for our own homes so that our family members can enjoy it and feel secure there; how we hope our home is a place of warmth and hospitality for those who visit us there, and how we want our homes to be part of a neighborhood that is a lifegiving community.  All that takes intentional, responsible work on our part.

As we care for our own homes, Pope Francis is calling us to care for our beloved Earth, our common home.  He says: “Respect for creation is a requirement of our faith.  The garden in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather, to be cultivated and tended with respect.”  Our Pope is urging us to protect God’s creation for future generations.  He’s especially inviting us to embrace some lifestyle changes that will help our earth thrive, and to take care of people who are especially vulnerable to the climate shifts. By helping creation, we give glory to God.

Five years ago at our Motherhouse in Adrian, MI., we took an ‘environmental audit’ to track our carbon footprint.  As a result, we have made many major changes…among them, some as simple as changing all the light bulbs to energy efficient ones, to more encompassing changes like installing solar panels, which have cut our electricity usage by 30%.  As a Congregation, we practice ‘meatless Mondays’ to reduce the amount of meat we consume.  Here at the parish, lights have also been changed, and recycling is practiced.  It’s amazing how even small changes can affect a greater good for our now fragile, suffering Earth.  St. Francis would call Earth our ‘kin’, referring to “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” whom we respect and never abuse.

I noticed a dumpster at a house construction site in my neighborhood the other day, and on the side of it was their motto: “Bin there, dump that”.  I thought it was a great reminder of 2 things we can easily do for our environment:  clean out ‘stuff’ and reduce consumption.  Mother Teresa said: “Live simply that others may simply live”.  Taking action to make that happen will help both our environment and our sisters and brothers with whom we share this beautiful, God given, ‘common home’.