As a new Advent season begins, our readings draw attention to creation. From references to ‘the mountain of the Lord,’ (Isaiah 2: 1-5) to trees, branches, and fruit, (Isaiah 4) to the creatures of the earth that learn to live together in peace, (Isaiah 11) we are reminded of the beauty of God’s handiwork, and that each element of creation plays a role in God’s mysterious and eternal plan of salvation.
Is it any wonder that all of creation sings the praise of God, (Psalm 96) in order to reveal the Creator to those who live on the earth? Even St. Paul says as much: “For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.” (Romans 1: 19-20)
What an exalted role creation plays in our life. Not only does creation provide a common home to all of humanity, but it naturally and constantly points our attention to the God who created us.
Advent for many of us begins with another introduction to the realities of winter. Here in Wyoming we have had several snows already. Freezing fog in the mornings to cover the trees in a glimmering coat of ice, cold temperatures, and my least favorite, wind! are all parts of God’s creative genius. We know that it takes all seasons for the earth to bear its fruits. Both night and day, sun and rain, winter, fall, spring and summer are all necessary components for nature to sustain the life God has placed upon the earth.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and praises the Father of heaven and earth:
I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. (Luke 10: 21-22)
Even Jesus, as the Son of God, took on our human nature. The God of all creation humbly became one of us, and was born of the Virgin Mary. God, who is infinite and eternal, became a little child, born into a human family, to redeem the human family. In the words of St. Gregory of Nazianzen: “He [Jesus] comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.”
I am mindful today of the many providential ways God cares for us, his family. He gave each of us life, creating us in his own image and likeness. He formed the earth in all its beauty and bounty to provide for our every need. He gave us His Son, Jesus, as the incarnate revelation of his loving mercy and fount of salvation.
This Advent, perhaps we can prayerfully spend time with the following questions: How can we not give ourselves completely to God? How can we not care for one another out of the same love? How can we not care of all of creation, our common home? (Laudato Si, # 1)
One final thought this morning: As you probably know, this week, nearly 25,000 world leaders and international delegates along with another 25,000 interested people are gathered in Paris for the COP 21 world meeting. In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
You can read remarks made yesterday by the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin at the opening of the Convention here.
Pope Francis has made care for the environment a key component of his papacy. In his most recent Encyclical Letter: On Care For Our Common Home, Laudato Si, He teaches that The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all (LS 23). The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone (LS 95).
May this Advent be a blessing to you, a source of grace, which draws all of us closer to Christ. As we draw ever nearer to Christ, may we grow in love for all of our brothers and sisters, and for the common home which God has entrusted to our care.
O God of love, teach us to care for this world our common home. Inspire government leaders as they gather in Paris to listen to and heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Let them be united in heart and mind in responding courageously. May they seek the common good and protect the beautiful earthly garden you have created for us, for all our brothers and sisters, for all generations to come. Amen (October 26 Prayer concluding Church’s Worldwide Appeal)