Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

September 1, 2019 – 22ndSunday in Ordinary time

World day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

A reading from the Book of Sirach (3:17-18,20,28-29)

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
 and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
 Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
 and you will find favor with God.
 What is too sublime for you, seek not,
 into things beyond your strength search not.
 The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,
 and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.
 Water quenches a flaming fire,
 and alms atone for sins.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 68

R. (cf. 11b)  God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
The just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
Sing to God, chant praise to his name;
whose name is the LORD.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.
A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance;
you restored the land when it languished;
your flock settled in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.
R. God, in your goodness, you have made a home for the poor.

A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (12:18-19,22-24a)

Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke (14:1,7-14)

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor. 
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
‘Give your place to this man,’
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place. 
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 
For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 
Then he said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Homily

Did you know that our church is actually filled with many trashes? Most of those remain unseen to us because they are hidden under the pews and chairs. I am referring to the countless bubble gums that were stuck underneath.

Those hundreds of bubble gums inside this church are harmless. They do not cause environmental degradation or decay to our wooden pews and plastic chairs. But what is alarming is our attitude in disposing our garbage. Because it is very easy to dispose a bubble gum discreetly under the pews and chairs, we do not take the effort to properly dispose it into the garbage bin.

Now, what is really its connection and significance? Today, Pope Francis asked us to pray for the Care of Creation. Moreover, starting today and for the rest of the month of September, we raise an awareness in our community that each of us has a responsibility to take care of each other and that includes our common home, the earth.

In addition to that bubble gum, our single-used plastic lifestyle has its tremendous contribution to environmental degradation and pollution. Indeed, we are so used to disposable things that are mostly made of plastics. These ranges from plastic straws, plastic cups, plastic plates, plastic spoons and forks, plastic bottles and plastic bags. And because we use them every day and it is the normal lifestyle, then, most of us are not aware of the danger that they bring into our common home, the earth.

Scientists tell us that plastic waste items can last up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills.[1]Plastic bags that we use every day can last from 10 to 1000 years too. While plastic bottles can last up to 450 years or more.

Moreover, the millions of straws that we use can last up to 200 years or more. And a study revealed that there are about 500 million straws being used every day and an estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws contaminate our beaches around the world.[2]You might have seen a video too of a turtle in which a plastic straw was stuck on its nose. It’s horrible!

That is why, Pope Francis is appealing to each of us to have a deeper awareness in caring for the whole creation.  This world day of prayer for the care of creations aim that you and me will do something today to actively participate in taking care for our common home.

I would like to invite you now to listen and watch this short video from Pope Francis.

Pope Francis asks us to pray for the Care of Creation

The Pope’s request is that we may be able to take good care of the creation – a gift freely given to us, by cultivating and protecting it for the future generations. We will only be able to take care of the earth and express our intimate connection with the rest of the creation, if we too are aware of our place and role in the whole creation. We are not masters and dominators of nature though we have made drastic and tremendous change in the place where we live in considering the technology that we have developed and the big cities that we have built. 

However, when nature expresses itself through natural disasters, we are completely helpless. The Typhoon Yolanda and the many typhoons that our country had experienced were evidences of our helplessness in those times. The recent flooding in Davao left many homes destroyed. There were 3, 559 families displaced because of that.[3]Four Baranggays of our City have been placed now under State of Calamity.

The readings we have this Sunday would help us to become aware of our place and of our connection with nature. Our Psalm sings today, “A bountiful rain you showered down, O God, upon your inheritance; you restored the land when it languished; your flocked settled in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided it for the needy.”

This tells us of God’s generosity to us. Pope Francis affirms this that the earth is a gift freely given to us. The Lord poured down the rain and restored the land that deteriorated. Should we not be grateful then? A gift freely given to us, and we are called to be grateful.

It is when we become grateful that we also acknowledge the gifts that we have received. Not just that, but also we become a person who is more aware of the presence of God, the giver of blessings and gifts. In this way, we recognize God in everyone and in everything. This calls us then, to be humble because of the amount of generosity from God.

The Book of Sirach expressed this invitation – that is to humble ourselves. The greater the gifts that we have received, the more we are called to be humble. In that way, we will find favor with God. To find favor with God means to be invited in a banquet such as these, the Eucharist. It also means being able to receive God’s abundant blessings particularly of God’s faithful presence in us. Having that confidence in God, will surely make us joyful.

That joy will move us then to become generous towards everybody else, to people and to every creature. It is in this attitude that we are able to take care of others. Because we are grateful, we become joyful and that joy makes us generous and that generosity is transformed into concrete actions of love and kindness.

This is what the Gospel is actually telling us today. A true generosity is not after any repayment because it comes from the heart that recognizes the first generosity of God. This kind of generosity calls us then to become life-giving especially to those who are in need. This is the reason why Jesus proclaims that the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and all those who are wounded in many ways, should rather be the subject of our generosity. With this sector of our society, the environment which has been wounded in many ways should also be included.

Now, the taking care of the creation should also come from that gratefulness in us. Because the danger also comes when we are ungrateful to God’s gifts including the creation. When we become ungrateful persons, we become self-entitled and dominators. We become demanding yet stingy of our time and energy and ungenerous of our resources and presence to those who are asking for our help. And most of all, we become indifferent to what surrounds us and indifferent to God, the source of all blessings.

As an expression of our gratefulness to God for the gift of creation, let us begin or continue our concrete actions of taking care the creation. So, I would like to invite you then to remember these small invitations.

First. Be aware and be grateful. Awareness is the first step in expressing our care. Thus, be aware that everything is a gift and be grateful.

Second. Reduce and if possible refuse to use single-used plastics. This is a concrete way of protecting the environment. This will be difficult if it has been our normal way to use single-used plastics but be patient until we get used to it by using other means.

Third. Raise awareness and inform others. Tell others of what you have realized. Share to your friends and neighbors on how we could care and protect the environment. Share your enthusiasm and your conviction because what we are protecting are not just ourselves, but particularly those who are materially poor because they are the ones who greatly suffer due to environmental degradation and the future generations.

These are small steps and hopefully it will inspire others to also take part in praying and taking care of the gift of creation. In this way, we may become a community of believers that truly promotes and gives life. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


[1]https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-long-does-it-take-garbage-to-decompose-2878033

[2]https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/news-plastic-drinking-straw-history-ban/

[3]https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1079053

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A Dose of God Today

A-Dose-of-God-Today : Your Daily Spiritual Nourishment, tries to put into words the thoughts and experiences of the wonder of life through the Holy Scriptures and the many invitations of God today.

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