Since February we have examined how social justice issues are really ecological issues, planetary household issues. Environmental ills and social ills are so interrelated that they cannot be defined outside of one another. And we are learning more and more how deeply entwined they are with the over-arching reality of climate change and its increasingly grave consequences for planet Earth.
In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes that realities are greater than ideas. Facts matter. The primary lesson of the Story of Creation, the Universe Story, profoundly and poignantly teaches us the most essential of facts. We are all one, forged from the beginning fires of the Great Flaring Forth and imminently part of the emerging Story of 13.8 billion years. Our human lives are fundamentally and closely intertwined relationships with the Creator, with one another, and with Earth herself.
Earth’s story is our human story. We are one with Sister Earth, sustained and nourished by the whole. How encouraging it is to hear those words now echoed in an official Church document. Pope Francis writes that, “as part of the universe…all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect. Here I would reiterate that ‘God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.” (par. 89)
We humans are not separate from Earth and all that sustains us. We are a universal family, and understanding that and living out of that understanding is an essential part of our Christian faith. We cannot show concern for Earth and not for our fellow humans, nor concern for our fellow human and disregard what is happening to the land, air, water, and other species.
And that concern must move us to action. There is much for us to do, more that we must become. The challenges of this day demand a personal conversion as well as a societal one. Time is not on our side. As Francis writes, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.” At the same time, we are people of hope and have an abiding faith in the goodness of our sisters and brothers. We can together face that which daunts us alone.
“O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life, to prepare for a better future, for the coming of your kingdom of justice, peace, love and beauty. Praise be to you! Amen!”