Fr Neil Vaney sm
Life is Home-grown
In the second creation story (Gen 2.7) God stoops down, takes some soil, breathes into it and human life blooms forth. How well that fits with our understanding of the universe right now. As far as we know, humans are the only creatures that can peer into soil and identify every atom, every compound and every living entity within it; and at the same instant can aim our spectroscopes out to the furthermost edges of the universe to map the composition of stars flaring at the outermost limits.
‘Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being.’ – Genesis 2.7
Popes on creation and the value of life
A decade ago Pope Benedict XVI stated that ‘the book of nature is one and indivisible’. Meaning that the environment, life, sexuality, the family and social relations are profoundly interlinked. This is what Catholics celebrate on Sunday 8 October in our day of prayer to respect life. This is what Pope Francis has explored in depth in his letter Laudato Si’ (On Care for our Common Home). He concluded this profound reflection with a prayer for our earth:
All powerful God, you are present
in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness
all that exists.
Pope Francis’ encyclical explores the paradox that each of us lives with every day: that each human life is unique and irreplaceable yet we are also creatures of earth totally dependent on air, soil, climate, sun and other living creatures – able to modify, enrich or destroy the presence and action of each of these.
Human attitudes to the earth
The Pope stresses how we humans can treat the earth and one another with honour or disdain. We are able to see creation as a gift (LS76), arising out of love (79). We can look at the world with eyes of wonder, and as a mystery to be explored rather than a problem to be solved (12). Living in the present with a sense of beauty and gratitude (226), we can then avoid being trapped in frantic activity.
Yet equally we can see other humans as objects to be manipulated and used (81). Denying human dignity and uniqueness can then lead into sexual abuse (123), loss of the dignity of work (126‒128) and embryo exploitation.
Deliberations of our New Zealand bishops
Speaking out on the values that we should expect from our newly-elected government, our own bishops have underlined the need to provide sufficient, good-quality housing to eradicate homelessness and the child poverty that are such blights on our nation. It is factors like these that produce abortion and suicide, such sad statistics in our land.
With Pope Francis we might pray these lines that conclude his letter:
Teach us to discover the
worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe
to recognise that we
are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards
your infinite light.
Published in WelCom October 2017