In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear a story about people who are given money to take care of – money to not just hold on to, but to invest so as to increase the amount. Now this parable is not really about making money. What is it, then, that we are called to keep, to take care of, to help multiply and make fruitful, in our lives and in our world?
One thing that we can take care of, with the help of God’s grace, is our Mother Earth. Hopefully we and other two-legged humans can help Creation to flourish – or, at least, not do things that prevent that flourishing!
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. In that text, he writes: “We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.”
Soon there will be a United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28) taking place in Dubai. Pope Francis will address the conference on December 2nd. Let us pray for those involved in this conference and for our common home, the Earth.
– Paul Robson SJ