There is a purpose for everything – use fallen Autumn leaves for mulch. Photo: Annette Scullion
Catherine Gibbs, TCI
Jesus was a wisdom teacher who keenly observed the world around, using images of nature in parables. He insisted on seeing things as loved by God and as revelatory of God. It is God’s love that ‘spills over’ into the act and reality of creation. All things are deeply interconnected with God’s presence with us in Christ. Creation and incarnation are interconnected in one great movement of God’s self-giving love.
Ecological theologian Sallie McFague, contrasts two ways of seeing. She describes how the ‘loving eye’ attends to the other, allowing it to be truly other, respecting its integrity. The ‘arrogant eye’ is characteristic of much of the contemporary attitude to the natural world. It objectifies, manipulates, uses and exploits. Christianity requires us to learn to love others, human and non-human, with a love that involves both otherness and intimacy.
In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis’ message is clear. Our consumer lifestyle in the first world is a symptom of the alienation of humanity from creation; it is suffocating the earth with carbon emissions and robbing the poor of sufficient resources. He notes how human dominion over creation has been misguided and we have lost our sense of nature as gift. We are called to care about and care for creation as God does. Francis maintains that in shifting our relationship to the earth from control to mutuality, is the beginning of the journey where understanding our place is rooted in right relationships. (LS #49)
Based on the core messages of Laudato Si’ Cardinal Turkson suggests four ways to activate CST principles in caring for our common home. Contemplation – living each day with a loving eye; Conversion – advocating for eco justice; Conversation – where authentic dialogue is honest; Care – when we see and allow ourselves to be affected by another. Through agencies such as Caritas these actions are lived realities.
Pope Francis says, ‘A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.’ (LS #91)
CST principles inform the work of several Catholic agencies where contemplation, conversion, conversation and care are lived realities in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond. The work is urgent. How are we nurturing our way of seeing?
This is a summary of a public talk on ‘care of the earth from our faith perspective’, which Catherine Gibbs gave earlier this year, sponsored by the Wellington Abrahamic council of Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Published in WelCom July 2017