This weekend provides a rare and fortuitous coupling of Earth Day, April 22 and Divine Mercy Sunday, April 23.
In 2008 the film WALL-E showed a dystopian, uninhabitable world totally filled with garbage. Fearing such a future, Earth Day was started some years earlier to remind us to keep the earth clean and healthy so it can continue to provide the goods and beauty necessary for a life which is fully human and fully alive.
For Christians (and Jews), however, Earth Day only takes us halfway. For we have the core belief that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and those who dwell in it.” (Ps 24:1). Divine Mercy Sunday reminds us not only that God created everyone and everything, but that after everyone misused everything (i.e. sinned), God had mercy and sent Jesus to save us and to bring creation to fulfillment. Furthermore, having received the loving mercy of God, we are commanded to “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful,” (Lk 6:36) both to one another and to the earth. This means we must also work to ensure that everyone shares in the bounty and beauty of the earth.
Pope Francis brilliantly points out this link between environmental concern and distributive justice in his encyclical Laudato Si’. We will explore the encyclical during the remainder of this Easter Season.
SPOILER ALERT: The bible teaches “that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.” ~ Pope Francis (Laudato Si’, #66)