Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

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Third Week in Advent: Ecological Conversion

Dec 13, 2020
Isaiah 61: 1-2A, 10-11; Luke 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8; 19-28
Prepared by:
From the Advent Reflection Guide 2020

The following reflection is from the Advent Reflection Guide 2020: Building a Culture of Peace.

 

“As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.”
- Isaiah 61: 11

The readings this week continue to provide a vision of God’s fulfilment of his promises in the Kingdom of God, initiated by the coming of Christ as preached by John the Baptist. 

In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear, “The Lord has anointed me…to bring glad tidings to the poor… As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.” In the Gospel, John the Baptist calls himself a “voice crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” referencing another passage from Isaiah depicting the flourishing of the earth in the Kingdom of God.  

In the imagery from Isaiah referenced in this Gospel and first reading, the health of the earth is likened to spiritual health and union with God. Holiness and wholeness are represented by abundance, beauty, and natural flourishing, in contrast to dryness and decay. 

In his apostolic teaching, Pope Francis has been showing how this is not only a metaphor, but increasingly a reality. In Laudato Si’ he explained how our sick, “throwaway culture” has resulted in a destruction of the earth that is the result of social sin, the sin that is perpetuated by structures of society, and personal sin, the choices we make which deliberately harm the earth. 

The overconsumption of those in wealthy countries leads to entrenched poverty in developing countries, which in turn leads to conflict over resources and violence. This cycle of violence – violence toward the earth leading to violence toward one another, and vice versa – is an enormous impediment to peace.  

Building a culture of peace requires an “ecological conversion,” Pope Francis says. In his 2020 World Day of Peace Message, he says, “Faced with the consequences of our hostility towards others, our lack of respect for our common home or our abusive exploitation of natural resources – seen only as a source of immediate profit, regardless of local communities, the common good and nature itself – we are in need of an ecological conversion.” 

This type of conversion entails personal change of habits, but also working toward structural change, so that our systems allow us to care for the earth more easily and affordably. Building a culture of peace through care for the earth requires both personal and social action. 

Questions for Reflection:

Have you ever had experiences that nudged you toward “ecological conversion” – a transcendent moment in nature, a learning experience about climate change, a moment in prayer, etc.? How do you understand peace as related to ecological justice?

 

Prayer:

Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of the universe, for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.

O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
Amen.

-  Pope Francis, Christian Prayer in Union with Creation

Faith in Action:

  • Watch our 30-minute webinar on climate change and U.S. policy. 
  • Sign this petition to the World Bank urging them to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. 
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