Fr Patrick's reflections

26th Sunday Year B - Reflection by Fr Patrick

Our 4th ecological work of mercy is to exercise care and stewardship over the environment. We must bear in mind that the earth and all its fullness belong to God (Psalm 24:1). In giving man dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28,) and power of the works of His hands (Psalm 8:6), God invites humanity to share in His own divine authority and power. The right context,

meaning and implications of humanity’s delegated power over the earth could be inferred from the accompanying command to ‘till the earth and cultivate it’ (Gen. 2:15) Jesus also makes

it clear that the authentic expression of divine power and authority consists in - service, care, and stewardship. At all times God opens wide His hands and provides for all His creatures (Psalm 144/145:16, Matt. 6:26). Created in His image and likeness and sharing his power, we are God’s stewards and he has put us in charge of his household (oikos), ‘to give them their food at the proper time’. In the past we have succeeded in eating and drinking (exploiting for selfish reasons) and beating up (oppressing) other creatures (Lk 12:45; Mtt 24: 49). The second reading warns us against the danger and vanity of exploiting the poor and excessive quest for material prosperity. The time has come for us to wake up to our stewardship responsibility. Government and multinational companies are struggling to ensure the use of appropriate

technology and production patterns in the industrial and agricultural sectors to reduce the rate of pollution and degradation of the earth. This they must do without neglecting the need to

introduce and encourage global economic, trade and industrialization policies that would help poorer nations to grow. In our day to day lives as individuals, loving tenderly, living simply and leaving the earth better, could be our own way of exercising this divine care and stewardship over God’s Oikos.


Our third ecological work of mercy is ‘to develop an ecological conscience’. Conscience is that moral principle in the human heart. A well-formed conscience is the voice of God. It is what the second reading today refers to as divine wisdom and the principle of goodness in the human heart. On the contrary, a bad conscience on the other hand is earthly wisdom, a heart prone to greed, materialism, exploitation, injustice, inequality and ‘compulsive consumerism’. (James 3:16 - 4:3). It is now obvious that the present ecological crisis reflects a profound moral crisis beginning from our badly formed consciences and permeating every aspect of the society. The result has been seen in the wanton destruction of nature and all forms of human oppression and suffering. As Christians, what we need to do to restore the imbalances in both human and non-human ecology is allow the Gospel message and our encounter with Christ to evoke in us an ecological conversion that helps us to develop a deep ecological conscience, that is, a pervasive ecological sensitivity and practical ecological virtues. When motivated by an inner

eco-conscience, we impulsively become aware as Pope Francis says, that ‘Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a

secondary aspect of our Christian experience’. An eco-conscience will help us to: show

gratitude and be gratuitous; understand that we are connected to others and dependent on them; see the need to develop our individual and God-given capacities and so contribute our own

quota to the development of society; see our advantage of rationality and power as giving us serious responsibility of care towards others ; and finally recognize the intrinsic divine presence in every creature.


Our second ecological work of mercy which would also form our theme of reflection this week is to acknowledge our relationship with other creatures, both human and non-human.

This relationship is that of mutual dependence and complementarity wherein each creature

complements the other and benefits from the other. Art. 340 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle, and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other”. In this one Oikos (household) of God, to use the words of Pope Francis “all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion”. Acknowledgement of this communion with other creatures should naturally give us a sense of solidarity with them so much so that

we should be ready as St Paul says to rejoice with those who rejoice and be compassionate

towards those that are in pain. St James’ admonition that our Christian faith must go beyond empty words if it has to be authentic implies that we must take concrete actions to make our acknowledgement of this sublime universal communion practicable and felt especially by those who are in dire need of our attention. This is true for the refugees, those suffering from the

poverty created by unjust global economic policies, victims of environmental disasters, migrants turned back along our coasts and borders, as it is true for our forests and endangered plants and animal species. In a short or long run, the treatment we mete to one creature whether human or non-human, somehow affects us in one way or another. Working for the common good of all creatures is invariably working for our individual good. Fr Patrick.