"We are losing our attitude of wonder, of contemplation, of listening to creation and thus we no longer manage to interpret within it what Benedict XVI calls 'the rhythm of the love-story between God and man.'"
+ Pope Francis
Pope Francis: "Nothing is more important" than preaching the Risen Christ
Pope Francis did not specifically mention protecting the world’s ecosystems in his homily Sunday directed at teachers of the Catholic faith. But what the Holy Father did stress is something that all Catholics who seek to protect creation, or in any way elevate the common good, should keep in mind.
[The] centre around which everything revolves, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen, the Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day. We must never forget this. On this Jubilee for Catechists, we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and centre: the Lord is risen. Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centrepiece, if it is saturated by the Paschal proclamation. If it remains in isolation, however, it loses its sense and force.
Here Pope Francis is, in part, reminding us of the foundation of the Church's existence, lest our efforts become nothing more than activism founded on a human desire for power rather than an offering of the grace of God.
In other words, the increasing “progressive” cry for protests as a means to soothe the ills of our age is not what Catholics are truly called to offer.
“We are not prophets of gloom who take delight in unearthing dangers or deviations,” Pope Francis said. “[W]e are not people who become ensconced in our own surroundings, handing out bitter judgments on our society, on the Church, on everything and everyone, polluting the world with our negativity. Pitiful skepticism does not belong to whoever is close to the word of God.”
Whoever proclaims the hope of Jesus carries joy and sees a great distance; such persons have the horizon open before them; there is no wall closing them in; they see a great distance because they know how to see beyond evil and beyond their problems. At the same time, they see clearly from up close, because they are attentive to their neighbour and to their neighbour’s needs.
Those of us engaged in ecological pursuits should, like all Catholics seeking justice and peace, remain rooted in the centrality of our faith—that He is Risen. Otherwise we become resounding gongs or clashing cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1) that do not reflect the love of the Triune God in human history.
Clearly, there are times for protests and political debates. But anyone of any faith—or no faith—can march and shout and be arrested in protest of this cause or that.
What the world truly needs is something else. Or, better yet, what the world needs is something that elevates all that. According to Pope Francis, what the world needs is this:
It is by loving that the God-who-is-Love is proclaimed to the world: not by the power of convincing, never by imposing the truth, no less by growing fixated on some religious or moral obligation. God is proclaimed through the encounter between persons, with care for their history and their journey. Because the Lord is not an idea, but a living person: his message is passed on through simple and authentic testimony, by listening and welcoming, with joy which radiates outward. We do not speak convincingly about Jesus when we are sad; nor do we transmit God’s beauty merely with beautiful homilies. The God of hope is proclaimed by living out the Gospel of love in the present moment, without being afraid of testifying to it, even in new ways.
Photo: Jeffrey Brunp/ALETEIA
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About the Blog
Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.