SEP 19, 2021
1st Reading: Wisdom 2:17, 17-20, Psalm 54: 3-4, 5, 6-8, James 3: 16-4:3, Mark 9: 30-37
This Sunday’s readings each describe damaging and unwise actions by those who profess to follow God’s way in this world. Peace and prosperity in our social homes are undermined.
In Wisdom, the wicked challenge God to protect the one who calls out their transgressions and violence. In James, God’s wisdom is defied by jealousy, selfish ambition, wasteful passions, and war and conflict. In the gospel, Jesus calls His disciples to the way of humble service that reflects the qualities of wisdom that James lists: “first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.”
These are challenging qualities to practice in a social and economic world that rewards and celebrates the practices that James blames for our conflicts and disorder: useless passions, coveting to possess more, killing and envy for what we can’t control. Jesus models His practice of welcoming children to inspire us to practice a desire to be the least of all rather than the greatest. We will then be strengthened to practice the ways of peace to welcome all of God’s gentle, humble, fruitful creation—and work to protect it and nourish it to thrive again. Just as we usually know how to do with the children God blesses us with.
Have we overlooked how all of creation has welcomed us and inspired us to praise and thanksgiving? Creation now needs our warm and protective embrace after we’ve been neglectful of her needs and have acted too ambitiously for our own desires.
The Wisdom reading (Wisdom 2:17, 17-20) bluntly characterizes the defiance and mockery thrown up by opponents of God’s pattern for creation. They aggressively attack “the just one who sets himself against our doings…reproaches us for transgressions of the law, and charges us with violations of our training.” They arrogantly challenge God to “defend him and deliver him from the hands of his foes.” They use revilement and torture to “have proof of his gentleness and try his patience.” They will kill him “for according to his works, God will take care of him.”
Our societies have abused God’s creation in these ways, and now economic and political forces attack the defenders of God’s creation in these ways as well. Global warming and its consequences—making our weather more extreme, reducing its sustainable support of human life, forcing migration from newly uninhabitable lands—are nature’s responses to our provocations. Yet some still deny and resist taking responsibility to care and reform our ways.
May God’s word (and the reformed practices it inspires in us) become the way that “God will take care” of the world and its people that wisdom has endowed with the blessing to be “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.”
May we have the wisdom, courage, and fortitude to fight nonviolently those blindly defying and mocking God and wisdom’s creation. We will be following in the steps of others who trusted that “God will take care of them,” even in death suffered for setting themselves against the transgressions and violations of the wisdom of God’s creation.
The wicked challenge whether “his words be true” and whether “God will defend him and deliver him from the hands of his foes.” Our responses can show that God does defend and deliver the people and creation that have been made in God’s wisdom and love.
That we may give up the ways of ecological destruction for the ways of wisdom and peace that will repair and renew our earth, promote environmental safety for all, and create sustainable economic systems around the world….
This week’s scripture readings urge us to accept the pain and honesty needed to acknowledge our sins against God’s wise ordering of our natural and social worlds, to lament for the suffering we’ve caused, to renew our awareness of what we need, and to be trained in the practices that will restore and promote the peace of the world in all its dimension.
Use various media to gain a deeper awareness of the harms humans have caused to the natural world’s processes and the suffering this is inflicting on people around the world:
– the UN’s current Report on Climate Change gives facts of earth’s condition, dangerous trends, and how our actions can mitigate or exacerbate global warming and ecological sustainability
-The Laudato Si’ encyclical by Pope Francis (2015) analyzes how our human practices of ignoring the limits of earth’s sustainability, consumption, and reckless pursuit of wealth and power have caused our current worldwide problems
Act in specific ways to promote the stability of our environment and the sustainability of our earth:
– join our parish Creation Care Team to enable our parish to learn and act in the ways that our faith calls us to
– consider changing personal habits to reduce your household’s energy usage, most significantly by:
a. insulating your home well,
b. reducing fuel use in transportation by using bikes, walking, mass transit, and electric vehicles
c. limiting or stopping eating meat products that consume much land, energy, and water to produce
d. growing your own food