Reflection on the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When I first read the readings for today I wished that I had chosen a different Sunday. As I sat with these readings in these weeks leading up to the launch of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and went back to an article Jessie Rathburn had written in the June Interchange, I began to see things differently. While the first reading and the Gospel are focused on the marriage relationship between a man and a woman, there is much to consider here about our human relationship with Earth.
We are reminded that God created everything, including humans, and we were designed to be here on Earth as an integral and interconnected part of creation, living in harmony. There is something of God, something divine, in every part of creation. The earth, plants, animals, humans and all of creation were never intended to be divided up, separated or divorced from one another. We are all made of the same stuff and made to be a part of an amazing and complex ecosystem. While I think Earth may be able to live without humans (as it did for a long time), we are not made to live apart from this planet, our home.
The reminders in these readings set forth the right relationship between humans and the planet. We may leave our families or friends under some circumstances, but we are inextricably bound to our planet for our very existence, and we should, therefore, make all our choices in a unitive way that represents what is good for us and good for the planet. All our choices should deepen and strengthen our love and respect for the planet. I have been particularly distressed since recycling places stopped taking many plastics. China is no longer purchasing our recycled plastic. And while we now have some wonderful ways to repurpose plastic, our repurposing is only using a very small percentage of the plastic here in the United States. That means I struggle to break my habit of buying those items that come in plastic containers. I want to be more deliberate and more thoughtful about forms of packaging.
When the Gospel says “What God has joined together, no human being must separate,” I think we need to look more closely at our relationship with Earth. How have we alienated ourselves from Earth, and disregarded the deeply interdependent relationship God established between humans and creation? We have only to look at the news and we can find a hundred examples.
Humankind may have created and sanctioned divorce and separation, but we have seen the effects of separating our needs from Earth’s needs, and of living without consideration of the needs of our home planet. It is disastrous. The second reading says “The one who consecrates (referring to Jesus) and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.” We all come from God, carry a part of God within us and are meant to be the divine presence here and now. Jesus was the ultimate example of that for us. As someone who walked lightly on Earth, cared about all people and provided healing, inclusion and reconciliation, Jesus exemplified what is being asked of us. God gave us plant and animal life that lives simply, doesn’t hoard things, trusts in the divine plan and flourishes without human influences. We are constantly offered that same option. We are sometimes lured into believing that we can still thrive while creation suffers, or we can postpone the reparations that we owe our planet, but all of creation is crying out to us to pay attention. Our God calls us to love creation as God has loved it since it came into being. We are called to continue to make changes, sacrifices and efforts to love as God loves. As Jessie wrote in Interchange, “Let us ground ourselves more deeply in our love for Earth and for each other.: As the Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, “Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that; it lights the whole sky.”