This reflection is based on Mark 4:35-41.
The gospel story about Jesus stilling the storm at sea takes on new significance with the recent release of Pope Francis’ much-awaited encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. The Pope minces no words and spells it out for us. It is not easy to hear. Listen:
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
He doesn’t do it, but the Holy Father might as well have used a four-lettered word. That stung!
We have exploited the earth beyond acceptable limits, he tells us, and it is no time to lull ourselves in the illusion that we can continue doing so and all shall still be well (Pope Francis calls this idea of unlimited growth a lie). Nor can we simply expect the Lord to solve the problem for us: He can’t still a storm that we continue to stir.
In prose both beautiful and blunt, the Holy Father tells us: “Wake up and stop the storm!”
Typically, he draws our attention to those who are most vulnerable to the ongoing destruction of the environment: the poor who suffer today and the children who will live after our generation. The encyclical is an invitation to compassion: compassion for the victims of the deterioration of the enviornment, compassion even for the planet Earth, which Francis calls “our sister and mother.”
Many have welcomed the brave words of Pope Francis, and the collective call to action that his encyclical makes. But do we welcome the implications of his words on our personal lives? The sad truth is, we can’t still a storm we continue to stir. Against the temptation of passing the burden to governments and multinational companies, we need to ask ourselves the disturbing questions: What am I going to do about this problem? What changes in my lifestyle am I willing to make–especially in terms of what Pope Francis calls the “throwaway culture”–to do my share in taking care of our common home?
For all its dire warnings, the Pope’s encyclical offers us hope: “Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
How will you make this new start?
If you want to read the encyclical, click HERE.
Watch a short and entertaining clip on how the world awaited this encyclical: