September 4, 2022, Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Liturgy: Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke (14:25-33).
Reflection by Sylvia Thompson, from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Sunday Liturgy Notes for SOC 2022:
Today is the first Sunday in the Season of Creation, the time set aside by the church to both celebrate the gift of all God’s creation in our Common Home and reflect on our role in caring for it. This year’s theme is a strong call to “Listen to the Voice of Creation”. We know, only too well, that we are at a crucial time for our common home with both climate change and biodiversity loss already impacting the lives of many people, their livelihoods and all life. So as Christians, how are we responding to these moral and ethical challenges? Do we recognise that like Moses in the story of the burning bush, we too are standing on “holy ground”? Of course this call is not new and was put strongly to us by Pope Francis in his letter called Caring for Our Common Home… Laudato Si’ nearly 7 years ago now!
And how fitting that in today’s gospel, ‘Jesus turns around’ and asks us do we really want to be ‘his disciples’, his dedicated followers, to carry the cross? It’s a pretty big ask these days! We all have our own immediate responsibilities, family, farm, work, school, illnesses, sadnesses, so many other entanglements. We are sometimes lost in the ‘big crowd of followers’, living our lives, rushing around from one engagement to the next and now we are being asked to carry a cross on top of all this! Who is going to sign up for that, I ask you! But we sign up for training for football and different sports, years of primary school then more in secondary school, degrees and further education courses, we sign contracts and some go as far as signing life contracts in marriage. So it seems that we can make commitments. Now this Season of Creation can we commit or sign up to protecting our actual home place, Our Common Home, the precious blue planet lovingly created by God as a home for all creation?
Can we respond to the threat of a total climate breakdown and devastating biodiversity loss? Are we willing to sign up to change our way of life, how we heat our homes, travel, farm, garden and even shop and eat? These are huge asks, in fact a new kind of cross. But this is a cross that we can embrace with joy and no doubt some pain too as we leave behind old ways of being. Joy can come as we work (with Jesus and other) dedicated followers in our communities to co- create a new and transformed Common Home, where farmers can feed their families, indigenous peoples can live in their home place, people in cities breathe clean air and all of us can have clean and safe drinking water and of course where nature and all God’s creatures can thrive.
Let us continue pray together and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us as we begin our celebration of the Season of creation and take steps, no matter how small, to live in harmony with all of God’s creation, as we learn to walk more gently on Gods ‘holy ground’.