1st Sunday of Lent
February 26, 2012
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
1 Peter 3:18-22
“The environment is God’s gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”-Pope Benedict, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate
“I will establish my covenant with you. Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again will there be flood to destroy the earth” – Genesis 9:11
These words of God are contradictory to the dreadful and disheartening disaster that happened last year when Typhoon Pedring and Typhoon Sendong left a trail of catastrophe to the Filipino people especially to the victims who maybe at this time have not yet recovered from the loss of their love ones and properties. Are we saying that God has not been faithful to His covenant?
According to experts, majority of the natural disasters that hit us were not due to God’s wrath but by human activities. The document of PCP II says, “because the integrity of God’s creation is violated, our people suffer the destruction. Those disasters cannot be traced merely to the uncontrollable powers of nature but also to human greed for short-term economic gain.” (PCP II Acts # 323).
God has been faithful to His covenant. It is us who failed to take care of the creation He has entrusted to us. We have lost affinity of the earth. We feel no sense of loss when earth is seriously damaged. Our greed and selfishness, our insatiable hunger for worldly goods made us unfaithful stewards.
- To provide points for reflection on our attitudes and behavior to our Mother Earth.
- To facilitate and instil among the participants their responsibilities as Stewards of God’s creation.
- To challenge the participants to examine their past actions that contributed to the destructions of the environment.
- To challenge the participants to be an advocate of environmental concerns and to encourage personal, communitarian, and social conversion.
Suggested Activity: Genesis 1: The Creation of the World
- 1. Play/Read it twice. What word stands out in the text? (A word that somehow touches you when it is repeated).
- 2. What is the role of man in God’s creation?
- 3. Are we able to respond?
The ecological crisis is evident to anyone. Just last year, the world witnessed widespread manifestations of the earth’s critical condition. Who could forget the Earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 with more than 15,000 fatalities and more than $30B incurred losses; the earthquake in New Zealand in February 2011; the severe storm and tornadoes in the United States in April and May 2011; the flooding in Queensland, Australia in January 2011; and the latest here in our country- Typhoons Pedring and Sendong. Thousands of lives are horrendously swept away and billions of properties are damaged by the disaster. Confronted with the rapid increasing devastation of the environment we come to understand that we cannot continue to abuse and use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. The grave threat of ecological breakdown is reminding us of the extent to which greed and selfishness have prevailed.
Reflection and Analysis
In the creation story, we see that among all creatures, man is the only one that receives the unique and special favour from God. He is created in God’s image and likeness. He mirrors God by caring for what He had made. Only he shares God’s creative power and goodness from which flows the mission of being a steward. Thus, being steward is a gift, a mission and an intrinsic nature of man.
This gift and mission of stewardship entails responsibility and accountability. Man has dominion over all other creatures of God. He is the “caretaker” and “in charge” whatever God has given to him. He assumes power to govern but he has to exercise this power to govern according to the design or plan of God. He must responsibly manage everything that God entrusted to him.
We all share common stewardship. God entrusted us to take care of the earth and its resources, master them by our labour and enjoy our fruits. Earth’s resources are destined for all peoples and these should be fairly shared by all under the guidance of justice tempered with charity.
However, we realize that there are many environmental problems in our country. Confronted with the rapid increasing devastation of the environment as manifested by disasters and other environmental destructions, we come to understand that we cannot continue to abuse and use the goods of the earth as we have done in the past. The grave threat of ecological breakdown is reminding us of the extent to which greed and selfishness have prevailed.
The teachings of the Church remind us that as stewards, we must ensure that the goods of the earth are used wisely and shared equitably by all. Similarly, stewards must ensure that earth’s capacity to preserve and protect life must be sustained.
Call to Action
To protect our earth from destruction, every one of us, to become responsible stewards, must undergo radical change in mentality, attitudes and lifestyle. Our life should be characterized by self-giving, honesty, simplicity, humility, solidarity and self-discipline both as an individual and as a community. We should practice and promote social and environmental justice. We urge every steward to respect the inviolable dignity of man as well as the sanctity of the environment. To take care of our creation is also to take care of the poor.
We know that there is an URGENT NEED for ecological evangelization. We can never be truly cared the earth unless we perceived its sacredness, unless we know our tasks in respecting and protecting it, unless we understand its “critical” situation.
What can we do as faithful stewards of God’s creation? Here are some ideas:
- We can start conserving resources. We will practice a communal lifestyle in conservation and recycling.
- To those of us who are knowledgeable, start advocating and sharing one’s learning to your own family, community and workplace.
- We can partner with local environmental NGOs and participate their projects or campaigns.
- Invite environmentalists to speak to communities.
- Work with landless, displaced, refugees, indigenous and support their causes for land,
- What else…?
- Recycle everything that can possibly be recycled: plastics, fresh fruit and vegetable peelings, paper and cardboard, glass and tins.
- Start a compost heap like vermin-composting. A practical way to waste management and the restoration of soil fertility.
- Encourage manufacturers to bear the responsibility for recycling or disposing of used
parts and machinery in goods such as television sets and computers.
- What else…?
- Reduce water use.
- Reduce your dependence on your car.
- Reduce burning of unrecyclable stuff.
- Reduce CFC or CFC-substitute emissions by not using aerosols, and using energy efficient
- Reduce electricity use by using compact flourescent lighting, and turn off all the electrical appliances when not in use such as radio, tv, lights, etc.
- What else…?
- Our own family and community of our commitments to recycling and reducing waste disposals.
- Remind friends and colleagues to buy products with simple packaging.
- Remind local authorities to conserve electricity and to use efficient electrical systems.
- Remind everyone you come in contact with day by day to live lightly on the earth, and to
make reduce-recycle-reuse-remind” the guiding principle of their consumption patterns.
- What else…?