Justice and Peace Issues
Season of Creation
The Season of Creation is the annual Christian celebration to pray and respond together to the cry of Creation: the ecumenical family around the world unites to listen and care for our common home, the Oikos of God. It begins September 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and ends October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations. The theme that will guide our path is “Let justice and peace flow”, guided by the prophet Amos who cries out, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (5: 24). We want to take up climate and ecological justice and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and biodiversity loss.
“A mighty river” is the symbol chosen to go with this theme, representing biodiversity at risk. The urgency grows and we must make visible peace with Earth and on Earth, at the same time that justice calls us to repentance and a change of attitude and actions. When we join the river of justice and peace together with others, it creates hope instead of despair.
You are invited to participate in a GLOBAL ONLINE ECUMENICAL PRAYER SERVICE Friday, September 1 at 9 a.m. ET. Click on this link to learn more and register., If you click on the YouTube link you can receive a notification at the time of the Prayer Service.
Sign the Letter to President Biden, Secretary Yellen, and Special Envoy Kerry
Ask that forgiveness of debt and the restructuring of debt must be included on the US agenda for COP28 . Click on this link for the letter,
Want to know more? Join us on Sept. 6 at 1 p.m. ET for a Season of Creation Webinar. Catholic Climate Covenant and Laudato Si’ Movement invite you to join them on September 6th at 1 pm ET/10 am PT, for a webinar on how we can celebrate and act during the Season of Creation. They are coming together to present our shared opportunity for prayer and action for and with our vulnerable neighbors and our common home. Register HERE for the Webinar.
Visit the Season of Creation website for more news to help you celebrate.
The Laudato Si’ Working Group of the Irish Bishops’ Conference has prepared a homily for each Sunday of the Season of Creation.
For September 24, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sally Simpson offers this reflection:
Today’s Gospel reading is challenging. We hear in this reading from Matthew about the owner of the vineyard who employs people at different times of the day to tend the vineyard. Some work a full day, others only a few hours, and yet they are all paid the same amount. We might agree with the first reading, God’s ways are not our ways. The parable challenges our understanding of how we live, work and care for each other. Many interpretations of this parable see the owner of the vineyard as God and God’s people as the workers. During this Season of Creation, we are called to care for the land, to “till it and to keep it” (Gen 2:15).
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis invites us to move away from the idea that we have complete dominion over the earth. He says, “we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures” (LS, 67). He invites us into a relationship of mutual responsibility with the earth where we take what is necessary for our sustenance but that we also care and protect the land for future generations.
We can also look at this reading from the perspective of what it is to be a just employer and of current employment practices. The landowner in the parable makes a point of going out to engage all those looking for work. In our world today, so many people have to work more
than one job just to make ends meet? We often hear of situations where workers are working long hours, for little reward while profits go back to making the businesses richer. There is serious inequality where corporations focus solely on making profits and those who
shape our economy keep GDP as the measuring tool. This is often at the expense of the earth and the poor. We are so often told that the richest 10% of the world hold 85% of the world’s wealth, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth. A recent survey showed that the world’s ten richest people doubled their wealth over the past2023 SoC Week 4 Sunday Reflection two years, while 99% of others’ income dropped.
Pope Francis, in Laudato Si talks about “big picture thinking”. Like the owner of the vineyard, we are called to work for the common good, to have a preferential option for the poor, to raise their voices and the voice of the earth, the vineyard. The owner of the vineyard pays
everyone the same, regardless of their work. This may sound ludicrous, but parables often leave us puzzled. We might ask the question: what would our society look like if everyone was raised up and empowered? The more we can provide meaningful work with a just wage
for all, the more everyone will feel included and can be given the opportunity to flourish. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis urges those in power to work for the “universal destination” of the world’s goods and that everyone has the right to their access. (LS, 93). He says, “the rich and
the poor have equal dignity, for ‘the Lord is the maker of them all’ (Prov 22:22; cf. LS, 93).
May we expand our vision and see as Jesus sees. May we see the needs of our brothers and sisters and respond. The parable of the vineyard owner challenges us to grow and to work for the common good, to love God and neighbour so that the quality of life for all may
Sally Simpson is a reporter and presenter for ITV, the British public broadcast network. You can download her reflection 2023 SoC Week 4 Sunday Reflection
For September 17, the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Nóirin Lynch offers this reflection:
In this week’s readings, we hear about kindness and greed as Jesus tells the parable of the servant whose debt is forgiven. We sometimes think that this gospel is about how many times we are asked to forgive others. Yet on reflection, we can see the challenge is actually much deeper than numbers. We are being challenged to realize how blessed we are and invited to use our privilege and power to support, not oppress, all around us. Let us be, like the Lord, “kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion”.
In Matthew’s account of the Gospel, we hear Jesus’ parable about a king forgiving a debt – that is, the King uses his power to set someone free from what was oppressing them. Then we hear how the now-free-from-debt servant fails to offer the same freedom to another. This enrages the King, who condemns the man. His condemnation is not about the money though. Instead, the King expects that the privilege granted to his servant would have transformed his heart, and he is shocked that it hasn’t. The servant had had the experience but missed the meaning – the opportunity to grow and live in kindness. Instead, he chose to remain greedy.
Those of us who rarely know hunger, who have never lost our homes to floods or fires, who live in a democratic state are privileged. It might not always feel that way, in fact we might worry a lot about what is owed to us, but we actually have a blessed life. When we remain consumed by what others ‘owe us’ or whether others deserve what they have, we lose sight of God’s generous grace.
This week’s gospel, and this Season of Creation, is an opportunity to notice where our heart is – trapped in fear and greed, or open and grateful. The first reading today asks: “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”
We ask our leaders, our churches, our neighbours and ourselves – Could anyone know the love of God and not recognise, and respect God present in every living thing?”
“In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si’.
“As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life”– Pope Francis, LS, 207.
You can download Nóirin’s reflection here:2023 SoC WEEK 3 Sunday Reflection
For September 10, the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jane Mellett offers this reflection:
Matthew chapter 18 is concerned with how the early Christian community might live together in harmony. It reminds us that the church should be a place where the least are considered the greatest and the last first; where we look out for the most vulnerable, where we are accountable to one another and forgive each other. In today’s text, Jesus sets out a vision for his followers concerning disputes within the community. The process he lays out is a respectful one and it is also realistic, because some people will not respond to this advice. The teaching reminds us that as church, we belong to one another, sisters and brothers, one body (1 Cor 12).
As we celebrate this beautiful Season of Creation, this is an appropriate text, for it invites us to reflect on how we are called to live in harmony. The realities of the ecological crises our world faces today highlights the great disharmony which exists between humanity and God’s creation. We are not living in right relationship with the natural world nor with our sisters and brothers who are suffering the most from the climate and biodiversity crises.
We are not living in right relationship with young people who are now growing up for “we may well be leaving to coming generations, debris, desolation and filth” (Laudato Si’, 161). Pope Francis calls the destruction of nature an “ecological sin”. This is not easy to hear, for it makes demands on us. The good news is that there is a cure. Laudato Si’ calls us to a profound interior conversion where our relationship with nature is concerned. Today’s Gospel reminds us that there are moments when we must speak the truth in love for the greater good. The Season of Creation presents us with such a moment where we can create awareness across our communities so that together we can discern how to care more deeply for God’s creation. For this is our common home, the home we all share. We are not alone, Christ is with us on this journey: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”.
“The climate crisis is a deeply spiritual crisis…Our faith offers us a wonderful vision to rekindle these relationships, to renew a childlike sense of awe, wonder and beauty and thus set out in living the first commandment God gave to us, to be guardians and protectors of this beautiful world, not its polluters and destroyers.” – Archbishop Dermot Farrell, Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, (Pastoral Letter).
Jane Mellett lives in Dublin, Ireland and is the Laudato Si’ Officer with Tròcaire (the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland). In 2018, Jane embarked on a Climate Pilgrimage, carrying the message of Laudato Si’ from Italy to Poland to the UN Climate Talks (COP24). This, she describes, as a real experience of ‘ecological conversion’ and since then she has dedicated her time to share the wisdom of Laudato Si’ with others, especially in the areas of ecological education and spirituality.
You can download Jane’s reflection here: 2023 SofC WEEK 2 Sunday Reflection
For the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Bishop Martin Hayes of Kilmore Diocese, Ireland offers this homily:
Jesus came among us and is with us to nurture life. The fulfilment of that purpose meant his suffering, death, and resurrection. Jesus faced the reality of opposition filled with the hope of new life. Jesus, in stating that he was destined to go to Jerusalem was indicating the beginning of the final stage of his earthly ministry – his upcoming suffering, death, and resurrection.
Peter tried to stop him, but Jesus makes it clear that it is not God’s way and reminds us that we too must take up our cross and follow him. We are called to live in harmony with the rhythm of the life of Jesus. We are, of course, assured that Jesus is with us always, yes, until the end of time (Mt 28:20). As we begin our Season of Creation, we give thanks believing that creation in all its beauty and diversity communicates the mystery of God’s presence.
Pope Francis in his message for the Season of Creation, in accord with the theme, ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow’, calls us to live in harmony with creation. He says that just as the heartbeat of babies in the womb are in harmony with that of their mothers so we can sense the maternal heartbeat of the earth. In calling us to renew our relationship with the earth, Pope Francis states that it involves our relationships with God, with each other, with creation and with ourselves. We are interconnected with all of life (LS 66).
In entering the rhythm of the life of Jesus, the Son of God, we enter the rhythm of God’s gift of creation, the Common Home of our interrelationships. The climate crisis, as highlighted by the sciences, and impacting upon the poor, opposes that rhythm of life. As Christians, we are called to enter the flow of justice for humanity and for creation. Indeed, St. Paul (2nd Rd.) calls us not to model our behaviour on this world, but ‘let your behaviour change’. Jesus, filled with a fire burning in his heart, like Jeremiah (1st Reading), stayed with the flow of his calling to go to Jerusalem. His urge to keep going despite opposition was irrepressible. We too are called to tune into this urge of Jesus to renounce everything for the sake of the cause of justice and peace. Pope Francis in his Season of Creation Message urges us to enter the flow of justice for the earth by changing our lifestyles and advocating for the public policies that care for our Common Home. May we, in trusting in the rhythm of life of Jesus, be renewed in our caring for our Common Home.
You can listen to Bishop Hayes homily here.
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