March 11. Promoting the common good. Stephen added, “It is difficult to legislate for the common good and for things like ecological conversion. It has been interesting to see how much money and energy has gone into fighting the Covid virus. At the same time climate change has more or less gone off the public agenda even though it is just as urgent and serious in the long term.  Of course it is less clearly identifiable.

Even though activists and the popes too have spoken about it for many years as part of Catholic Social Teaching, it has not become a mainstream issue. How many people have measured their carbon footprint I wonder. Often, too, it is a humanitarian or human good that cannot be enforced but should be promoted.    Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti, goes beyond Catholic believers but calls on all people. We humans are the aspect of creation that can make decisions   We cannot expect the animal kingdom or the plant kingdom to do that. 

Scripture: You shall call to them but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, “This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord, their God, and did not accept discipline, truth has perished, it is cut off from their lips. Jer. 7:23-28   Pope Francis:   A journey of peace is possible between religions. Its point of departure must be God’s way of seeing things. God’s love is the same for everyone, regardless of religion. It follows that we believers need to find occasions to speak with one another and to act together for the common good and the poor.  This has nothing to do with watering down or concealing our deepest convictions. FT 281-2. 

There is an episode in the life of St Francis that shows his openness of heart, which knew no bounds of differences of origin, nationality, colour or religion. His visit to the Sultan in Egypt on a mission of friendship or fraternity entailed hardships, given his poverty, the distance, language, and culture. That journey undertaken at the time of the Crusades, demonstrated the breadth and grandeur of his love which sought to embrace everyone.  FT3.  Reflect, share, act, pray. What aspect of the common good is important to us as a family? 

March 13.  Milly brought a school project she had worked on.  “Loss of biodiversity is a very serious matter and I have discovered it is often neglected because of short-sighted approaches, like just looking at the economy.  Indigenous forests are bulldozed to plant nut trees, that mainly produce for the export market and make money for the farmers or developers, rather than protect the environment.  Corrupt leaders and their police and armies buy off critics.  Each year thousands of plant and animal species disappear due to our human activity, poaching, and reduction in their habitat for their livelihood needs.

Pope Francis: Good ecosystems even require worms and insects to feed the soil and care for the plants. Because of us, these species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence. LS 33.  The book of nature is one and indivisible and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations. The deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence. The natural and the social environment have suffered damage due to an evil, the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives and that our human freedom is limitless. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves. LS6

Everything is connected. We, people are part of a much greater ecosystem of the whole universe and bear a great responsibility for it.  St Francis and his brothers chose complete poverty, calling her Lady Poverty and they chose to become one with nature and all of creation.  St Francis preached to the birds and St Anthony preached to the fishes

From the Little Flowers of St Francis. St Francis saw on some trees by the wayside a great multitude of birds; and being much surprised, he said to his companions, “Wait for me here whilst I go and preach to my little sisters the birds.”  He began to preach to the birds on the ground, and suddenly all those also on the trees came round him, and all listened. Brother Masseo observed how St Francis went among them and even touched them with his garments, and how none of them moved. The substance of the sermon was, “My little sisters the birds, ye owe much to God, your Creator, and ye ought to sing his praise at all times and in all places, because he has given you liberty to fly about into all places; and though ye neither spin nor sew, he has given you a twofold and a threefold clothing for yourselves and your offspring. Two of all your species he sent into the Ark with Noe that you might not be lost to the world; besides which, he feeds you, though ye neither sow nor reap. He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God.”

As he said these words, all the birds began to open their beaks, to stretch their necks, to spread their wings and reverently to bow their heads to the ground, by their motions and by their songs manifesting their joy to St Francis. And the saint rejoiced with them. He wondered to see such a multitude of birds, and was charmed with their beautiful variety, with their attention and familiarity, for all which he devoutly gave thanks to the Creator. Having finished his sermon, St Francis made the sign of the cross, and gave them leave to fly away.

Scripture. What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?  Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.  I have slain them by words of my mouth.   For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge for God rather than burnt offerings.  Hosea 6:1-6. 

Pope Francis: The creation accounts suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. These have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin.  LS66. 

Reflect, share, act, pray. Lent is about repentance for evil and wrongdoing.  An examination of conscience can examine sins against the environment.

March 14. Sunday Lent 4B. Gaudete Sunday. God’s judgement and salvation.  Fr Brian said,   “I thought that we should focus on God’s love and mercy in the light of justifiable punishment for wrongdoings, corruption and idolatry.   The Israelites were repeatedly caught up in this cycle of sin, repentance, forgiveness, restoration and sin again.  It is almost the same as the lesson we have to learn from Covid-19. In the beginning solidarity was the in-word and we listened to the World Health Organisation and also to Pope Francis at the Prayer Moment in March 2020.  Then people started arguing, refusing to obey directives, having issues with the police and we were sent back into lockdown.

God blessed us and salvation appeared with the speedy development of vaccines, but then again, regions of the world, especially the richer countries bought up the stocks for themselves.  Just now, with alcohol banns being partially relaxed the local restaurant association is complaining about some who disobey, hold big gatherings with music, dancing and drink.   Others, partially out of compassion, hold big funerals and risk becoming superspreaders.  Breaking these laws is sinful as it hurts everyone. The need for fraternity has to come into play.”

Scripture. In those days all the leading priests and the people were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations and they polluted the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. The Lord sent persistently to them by his messengers because he had compassion on his people, but they kept mocking the messengers of God, till the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, till there was no remedy.  And the Chaldeans burnt the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burnt all its palaces. 2 Chron. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.   John3:16.  

fraternity stands for truth and justice

Pope Francis:We realized that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.  But the inability to work together became quite evident.   For all our hyper-connectivity we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all.  It is my desire that in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity. Brotherhood between all men and women.  Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream together, as a single human family, children of the same earth, which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice. FT 8

St Francis was not just an icon for simplistic peace and love of nature. He proposed to his followers a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospels contained in his teachings summed up in The Teaching of Teachings: Love.

Reflect, share, act, pray.  Reuse, reduce, recycle should be the general approach to caring for creation. How can we adopt this more fully?