Reflection for November 24, 2020
Reading: Genesis 2:8-9,15-17
Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East, and he placed there the man whom he had formed out of the ground. The Lord God made various trees grow that were delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.
Laudato Si #93
Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the creator, since God created the world for everyone. Hence, every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the under privileged. The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct and the first principle of the whole ethical and social order. The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property. St. John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this teaching, stating thatGod gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone.These are strong words. He noted that atype of development which did not respect and promote human rights-personal and social, economic and political, including the right of nations and of peoples-would not be really worthy of man.He clearly explained that the church does indeed defend the legitimate right to private property, but, she also teachers no less clearly that there is always a social mortgage on all private property in order that goods may serve the general purpose that God gave them. Consequently, he maintained,it is not in accord with God's plan that this gift be used in such a way that its benefits favor only a few.This calls into serious question the unjust habits of a part of humanity.
I like plants. And, for the last two years I even helped with our little flower and vegetable garden at Our Lady of Sorrows. But, a farmer I am not. So, the instructions that Adam was given in the first reading to care for and cultivate the garden would have been beyond me. It's not just naming the plants and animals, but learning about them-what kind of care they need to flourish and grow, where they need to be planted, and, what they contribute to the web of life.
The reason for the care of the garden is to provide nourishment for everyone and everything. It is about the cultivation not only of bodies, but of souls. It is the support and maintenance of all of God's creation, providing an environment in which all can grow healthy and thrive. We need to recognize the intricate network that connects all things and which depends on all its parts to form an integrated whole. Everything is needed, everything is valuable. All things are loved and redeemed by God.
May God bless us with the wisdom to see, the grace to understand, and the courage to act. Amen.
Action: Where do you see the networks the bind all creation together? In what ways can you support and strengthen this net of interconnectedness?