The theme for the 5th day of Novena in honour of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was “Care for Creation”. The homily for the day was preached by Rev Fr Paul Kee C.Ss.R, where he focused on humanity and creation based on the second encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’.
Care for Our Common Home
In a world filled with the constant hustle and bustle of modern life, it’s all too easy to forget the profound connection we share with our environment. Our Earth, as described in the hymn of St. Francis of Assisi, is like a sister with whom we share our life, a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. But are we embracing her in return? Are we caring for our common home as we should?
Laudato Si’ is a testament to the deepening relationship between environmentalism, ethics, and Christian faith. More importantly, it’s a message that transcends religious boundaries, meant for all people worldwide, not just Catholics. At its core, this document implores us to care for our environment and, in doing so, strengthen the profound relationship between God, humanity, and the Earth.
Laudato Si’ serves as a precursor to Pope Francis’ call for a synodal Church, where we are not only called to listen to one another but also to our ailing Earth. It reiterates the Church’s long-standing call for responsible stewardship of all creation. Our methods of production and consumption must honour our Creator and respect the Lord’s command to care for creation while serving the needs of the human family, particularly the most vulnerable among us.
Central Themes of Laudato Si’ within the Teachings and Mission of the Church
1. Do Not Exploit Nature. Genesis 1:28 tells us that we have “dominion over creation.” But this dominion should not be interpreted as the right to exploit nature ruthlessly. Instead, it means tilling and keeping the Earth, lovingly nurturing and protecting it. We are called to care for creation, honouring our Creator through our actions.
2. Change Structures, Change Hearts. Laudato Si’ reminds us that solutions to our problems require both a change of heart and a change in societal structures. It calls for a transformation of our systems and a conversion of our hearts.
3. Healthy Society Leads to a Healthy Environment. Pope Francis emphasises that environmental issues cannot be addressed in isolation; they are deeply entwined with social concerns. Exploitation of people goes hand in hand with the exploitation of the environment. Neglecting the weak and the poor is intrinsically linked to neglecting the environment.
4. It’s All About Relationships. Our relationships with God, with each other, and with ourselves are interconnected. When we fall out of sync with our Creator, our attitudes and actions toward creation become distorted. Our relationship with the environment cannot be separated from our relationship with God and each other.
The Path Forward
We recognise the problems, but what can we do? Pope Francis reminds us that change must begin with us, humanity. We must foster awareness of our common origin, our mutual belonging, and our shared future. These basic realisations will lead to new convictions, attitudes, and ways of life.
This journey toward renewal requires a genuine conversion of mind and heart, a radical reorientation of our lives. We must re-evaluate our methods of production and consumption, embracing a more sustainable lifestyle. Small, everyday habits can become the driving force behind a broader shift in our approach to our common home, our suffering planet.
We must also approach nature with awe and wonder, recognising that creation is a gift from the Creator—a language of fraternity and beauty. When we feel intimately united with all that exists, sobriety and care will naturally well up within us.
The Call to Action
Before Mass, Magdalene Chiang, Penang State Coordinator for the Creation Justice Commission, Diocese of Penang, gave a succinct summary of the urgency of our situation. “We’ve taken the Earth for granted and abused our environment for selfish reasons,” she said
As stewards of all living things, as commanded in Genesis 1:28, it’s our responsibility to care for the Earth and maintain balance. Unfortunately, today’s world is marked by overproduction and overconsumption. The staggering number of livestock slaughtered annually, eight times the human population, speaks to our excessive exploitation.
To fulfill our role as stewards, we must remember not only to till the Earth but also to keep it, ensuring that it thrives. We need a transformation of our hearts, a profound change in our perspective. As John 3:30 reminds us, “He must become greater, and I must become smaller.” With this transformation, we will love and care for our common home.
In these challenging times, the message of Laudato Si’ resounds louder than ever. It’s a call to action, a plea for harmony with the Earth, and a reminder that our relationship with the environment is intertwined with our relationship with one another and with the Divine. It’s time to listen, learn, and act, for the sake of our common home and the generations to come.