The Gospel of Mark is written as a journey, where we follow the Christ and his friends on the less-travelled path that leads to the glory of Jerusalem and the hill country of Golgotha, covered by the long shadow of the cross.
There are many travelers on the wide and smooth road that leads to attractive destinations of immediate satisfaction of consumer capitalism. Places of natural beauty are paved over for quick access and parking lots.
The countercultural thoroughfare leads us to unexpected obstacles and to challenging curves, demanding faith and trust, We take time to help the fellow traveler or let him or her help us. There are detours of beauty that take our breath away and miracles to delight us with wonder and surprise.
(217), Pope Francis
Year B; 22nd Ordinary; Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23.
When integrity is lacking, there is disintegration on a variety of levels.
Systemic oppression reveals biases and assumed dominance that infect systems that are the base of society and its institutions. Reclaiming integrity requires matching external practice with internal change. Honest social and personal introspection is needed to identify endemic prejudices. Humble analysis of habituated compromises, defensive reaction, and the. ignorance, fears, and insecurity from where they flow point us to areas of surrender and needed transformation.
The struggle for environmental and climate justice recognizes the roots of an injustice that has been endemic to society.
(2), Pope Francis
There are several themes by which Scripture can be organized. The overriding theme of Justice lends itself to the understanding the relation between humans and the environment.
Environmental Justice pertains to the treatment of the environment and the use of the resources the environment provides By reason of our shared humanity, environmental justice considers the conservation of and distribution of those resources in light of our shared human need. of our shared human needs.
.Matt 14:3-21 18th Ordinary
Lk 9 11b-17 Sunday after Trinity Sunday: Body and Blood of Christ
The crowds have gathered around the Christ and the hour has become late. The Christ is faced with the shared hunger of the crowd.
Society is faced with the shared hunger of many in the world. Some societies overly consume food, while others do not have enough to eat. Some societies overly produce food, needing to discard what they do not use, while others cannot eek enough from the water or the soil for their own survival.
By reason of our shared humanity, overyone is entitles to sufficient fool to nurture their bodies.
The Christ calls his disciples and orders the feeding of the crowd. When all were satisfied, leftover food was gathered to share with others.
Year A; 3rd Lent;Exodus 17:3-7
Climate change produces drought and water toxicity.
As Moses led the Hebrew nation through the desert, intense thirst led the people to doubt the presence of God their midst..
Moses struck a rock, and out poured living water. We strike at the rock of hardness of heart, to change intransigent systems depriving many of potable water.
Pope Francis describes “drinkable and clean water” as a “basic, fundamental and universal human right’.
(27-31), Pope Francis
Year B; 18th Ordinary, Exodus 14:2-4, 12-15
We hear the complaint of an environment made ever more desolate by climate change.
The discontent of the Israelites who were wandering through the desert brought them to the edge of tolerance. “Did God bring us out here in the desert to die?” As the complaint of the Chosen People reached God’s ears, God rained Manna from heaven for them to eat.
Climate change puts at risk resources once readily available from land and water. Drought threatens populations whose agricultural lands are becoming deserts; hunger can be found in both rich countries and poor countries.
This outcry will not be met by unexpected manna falling from the sky. The atmosphere is too much choked by carbon wasted for that.
We as individuals and as a community can be "bread" or "poison”.
(168), Pope Francis
A PLACE FOR THE CHILD
Year A, 34th Ordinary; Matthew 25:40Mark 9:33-37
. The children were bothering the Christ’s followers, making noise and trying to break through the crowds. Christ chides his followers and welcomes the children, saying, “Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me
“Care for our Common Home” preserves an environment that sustains human growth The surroundings of nature provide an environment that engage a child’s curiosity, enables exploration, and builds a bond with the natural world. As the habitat of wonder is shrinking, alienation hovers over a society addicted to the immediate gratification of media and technology.
“Where do the children play?”.
Year B; 22nd Ordinary; Mark 7:21-23
Pope Benedict XVI said, “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”
When there is no inner spiritual resource, victim nature is raped by the blind use of power stemming from a sense of personal, political, and social powerlessness. When there is no imagination and spirituality, there is nowhere to turn for inspiration to create a better world.
MATTHEW: DISRUPTING THE STATUS QUO
The Hebrew nation had struggled to maintain its identity throughout their historical bondage to Egypt, Babylon, and Rome.
The Temple was the physical locus of God among the Chosen People. On the altar of the temple, the high priest acknowledged God’s liberating history through animal sacrifice. When the Gospel of Matthew was written, the unthinkable had happened: the temple had been destroyed!
Jesus’s followers believed that the Christ and Messiah would lead a revolution again to liberate Israel from oppression and restore the people to glory!. Armed with clubs and knives, the ragtag group of Jesus’s followers were ready, at the revolutionary master’s beckoning, to rebel against Rome. What then, they wondered after they returned to Galilee without as much as a stone thrown, happened to the hoped- for insurrection?
This Messiah presented by the Gospel of Matthew had a different agenda, The money changers and vendors were thrown from the temple. Eschewing the place of honor at tables, the master chose to eat with tax collectors and sinners.
Instead of fulfilling the expectations of his followers and exalting them socially and politically, the Christ began inviting the rabble to join their company: Samaritans, widows, children, and orphans; the sick, lepers, the lame, the blind. The Christ explained that the kingdom belonged to such as these.
Year A, 34th Ordinary; Matthew 25:40
In his description of the last judgement in Matthew, the Christ teaches: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me”
Among rhe number of the “ “last of all”, the “least among us” , Pope Frencis , in ” (2), identifies .nature: as “the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”
Year A 8th Ordinary; Mt 6:33-34 (Lk 12:31)
Austerity sets the standard of not more but better.
A growth ethos (all are entitled to more: more possessions, more property, more technology, more of the earth's resources) runs counter to the spirit of abundance. Even more employment -- when translated into a proliferation of low-paying jobs that do not meet a decent standard of living, jobs that require excessive hours and stressful commutes, jobs that suck the dignity and joy from work -- do not meet the demands of justice and equality.
A commitment to "better" affirms a sense of sufficiency, whereas an addiction to "more" causes a depletion of resources and environmental deterioration.
Thomas Aquinas, in the "Summa Theologica", describes austerity as "a virtue which does not exclude all enjoyments, but only those which are distracting from or destructive of personal relationships." Austerity is the ability to integrate simplicity and limits into personal and communal lifestyle. It aligns our wants and needs with the best interests of society and the good of the environment.
Year A; 8th Ordinary, Matthew 6:29
There is abundant beauty in the simple things of nature A person confined to a hospital bed
glancing at the cactus blooming on the table near the foot of the bed finds a moment of relief.
The Beauty of nature offers respite from the glaring forest of office building and high-rise apartments; inspiration in the pounding breakers rushing in from the ocean’s expanse; ecstasy when we are standing on the peak of a mountain, beholding the unfolding magnificence below.
The Christ extols to the loving care of God. in the raiment of the lilies of the field.
Year A; 16th Ordinary; Matthew 14:24-42
The Christ tells the parable of the planter who sowed his seed and, when he fell asleep, an interloper came and mixed weed with the good seed. When the seeds began to spring up, weeds and wheat appear together.
Weeds that are choking the response to problems of climate change include ndifference, resignation, a misplaced confidence in technical solutions.
It is past time for the harvester to pull now intransigent weeds, bundle them up and cast them out to be burned; for a “new and universal solidarity”, for ecological conversion and a concerted effort for change.
(14, )Pope Francis
Year A; 20th Ordinary; Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7; Matthew 15:21-28
Jesus is confronted by a foreigner: a Canaanite woman who petitions relief for her tormented daughter. Suddenly, the shells fall from the Christ’s eyes and the barrier from his heart: he now knows that, from that time forward, his mission could never be the same.
We often regard the natural world as alien. Estranged by the urban, commercial and psychological barriers we erect to isolate ourselves. We can no longer ignore the entreaties of this intimate foreigner.
Year A: 13th Ordinary, Matthew10:37-39.
In a radical interpretation of membership in God’s Kingdom, the Christ redefines kinship in a way that transcends blood relationship: the person who loves mother or father and spouse or child more than him is not worthy of him. This kinship does not allow for discrimination or notions of inferiority/superiority
The kinship is the bond between humanity and the natural world. The Canticle of St. Francis calls on “Brothers Sun, Wind, Air, and Fire; Sisters Moon, Stars, and Water; and Mother Earth.”
(1), Pope Francis
Year A; 8th Ordinary; Matthew 6:26-32
The pace of the natural process is slow and steady, giving the environment time and opportunity to adapt to its seasonal growth and changes. Silence dominates the deep forests . the rhythm of the crash of the surf is the ocean’s heartbeat.
Once t harmony is lost, discord. agitation. and imbalance sabotage the human spirit. Too often nature itself becomes victimized by the loss of regard and the dominance of overbearing human need.
LUKE: A REVOLUTION OF COMPASSION
In the Gospel of Luke, the earliest revelation of God in Christ was shared with the shepherds in the field, marginalized and humble people of the earth close to the herds and the seasons.
Unlike the Christ in Matthew, who delivered the beatitudes in a “Sermon from the Mount”, Luke’s Christ presents the invitation to happiness on a on a “level place”, where he could be approached by the poor, by widows, by orphans, by the outcast and marginalized.
Luke’s is the only gospel where the Christ elaborated the “commandment of love” with a parable. In the story of the Good Samaritan: actual loving service to the oppressed neighbor is part and parcel of the commandment of love.
As the Christ was about to depart his friends, he told them to wait in Jerusalem for God's promise. The apostles immediately concluded their long-held hope would come true: the time was at hand when they would overthrow the domination of Rome and the kingdom of the Hebrews would be restored. When they were met with a rebuke, they were left with uncertain future.
What the Christ promised was new Power, the Power of Love, enabling them to do things they had not dreamed of before.
DIVINE AND NATURAL ECONOMY
Year C; 7th Ordinary; Lk 6:38
When we overcome enmity and espouse nature, she responds generously for our sustenance: limbs of trees hanging with ripe fruit, cultivated fields of vines and vegetables ready for the harvest, seas teeming with schools of fish.
Works of love are their own reward. Divine generosity makes lavish return: pressed down, shaken together, running over, and poured into our lap.
The ecology of nature and the economy of God are on our side.
12th Ordinary, B: Matthew8: 23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25
We set out for the distant shore. The struggle for environmental and climate justice is beset with rough waters: not only the ecological crisis itself, but also social forces in opposition.
Faith is what held him fast in sleep in boat, the midst of the turbulence. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The abiding Spirit is with us in the teeth of ever menacing waters, It is our faith that can carry us through to the other side.
In 609 B.C., under the failure of leadership by Joakim, the Kingdom of Judah turned its back on righteousness and returned to sin. Babylon was quickly becoming a world power, and Judah was about to feel the violent hand of destruction. On the verge of the Babylonian conquest, the Prophet Habakkuk cried out to God in disappointed confusion because God would not intervene (Habakkuk 1:2-3). God instructs Habakkuk: Write down the vision on stones so it can be clear: the vision is not too late, it presses on to realization. (Habakkuk 2:2-3).
The vision presses on: on the lips of teachers who still are faithful to what inspired them at the very beginning; in advocacy of environmental justice in the face of denial and disparagement; in the struggle of the indigenous who defy profiteers who would ravage their land; in the voice of the young committed to a better future.
Year C; 30th Ordinary; ; Luke 18:9-14
The role of humility is often discredited. A humble person is often seen as self-effacing and lacking in assertiveness. .True humility, however, is a strength basic to right appreciation of self, others and the natural world. The person devoid of humility turns power into oppression or leadership into tyranny,
It is arrogance that overturns the proper balance of human need and desire, disrupting society and harming the natural world.
(224 ).Pope Francis
Year C; 2nd Ordinary; Isaias 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
“For Zion’s sake, I shall not keep silent.” Isaiah 62:1
Isaiah 62:1-5 bemoans Zion, once “my delight” and “espoused by God”, now “desolate” and “forsaken”. Rain Forests, once sheltering a variety of rare species; coral reefs, once gardening the ocean floor; glaciers, once holding large ice fields: now becoming desolate and forsaken. Isaiah determines that he “will not be silent, not be quiet”, until vindication and victory shine like the dawn.