Text: Father Dominic Robinson SJ at Mass for the Season of Creation

Father Dominic at the mass for the season of the creation of the SDEN, image: ICN/JS

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, parish priest and chairman of the Westminster Justice and Peace Commission, delivered the following homily at Farm, Street Church, Mayfair, on Saturday, at the first-ever Mass for the Southern Dioceses Environment Network (SDEN) marking the beginning of the Season of Creation which extends from here to the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi.

What is the point of being a Christian? What do we have to offer the world? Why bother? Christianity is seen by many as something strange to so many people around us – and therefore it is very difficult to explain why we still go to church, believe in something we cannot explain, adhere to outdated cultures, customs and rules – and, even worse, we are treated with suspicion and hostility, sometimes rightly accused of hypocrisy and using the guise of what, for a minority at least, is still respectability to wash away the brain, abuse, sow bad seeds rather than good ones.

In the midst of it all, the gospel given to us again this weekend throws down the gauntlet and challenges us to be better disciples in seemingly unrealistic and unachievable ways. Turn your back on family and follow by taking up the cross, embracing the suffering of ridicule and hardship, and when it seems like it’s time to pack up to carry on no matter what. And the Church is invited to do so in every generation. The context will of course be different. The threat of martyrdom amid the persecution of the post-Reformation period is part of our history. The battle to take our place as Catholics and as Christians in our modern society. And now the context is different again as we enter what Pope Francis heralded not as an era of change but as a change of era in 2013.

In my view, the Holy Father was right and his subsequent call to action is, like many others around the world, prophetic and bold. As Christians and as Catholics particularly inspired by the social doctrine of the Church, which shapes all that we do, we are called to build the Kingdom in such a way as to respond to the radical needs of our time. At the very heart of this, in all that we do as Christians and as citizens, is the call to respond urgently and radically to address the ways in which we have abused our call to be stewards of our God-given creation. The reality of climate change and the throwaway culture that has elevated humanity to a God-like status must be challenged and practical steps taken to rework the balance of our lives in accordance with an attitude that restores a sense of of humility and stewardship in the face of God and his gift to us creatures.

Francis challenges us to rethink what our faith calls us to in the midst of this new crisis: “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and intended for all. Globally, it is a complex system linked to many essential conditions of human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are currently witnessing a worrying warming of the climate system. This warming has been accompanied in recent decades by a constant rise in sea level and, it seems, an increase in extreme climatic events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be attributed to each particular phenomenon. . Humanity is called upon to recognize the need for changes in lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this global warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate [this]’. This is precisely why the Churches celebrate this time of Creation, between the Day of Prayer for Creation on the first day of autumn on September 1 and the Feast of the great Saint of Creation Francis of Assisi on October 4. . To bring us back to the specific call to discipleship today, to call us to refocus on who we are as stewards of God’s gifts, to raise our voices as Christians, and to empower ourselves to propose and contribute to solutions.

Dioceses of England and Wales, religious orders, parishes, schools, chaplaincies, campaigners, property staff, finance, administrators, the people of God are all engaged in life-saving practical projects to do all we can, alongside civil society, to combat the effects of the environmental crisis. The practicalities may differ – decarbonization by this or that date, fossil fuel divestment, green energy, brown energy, church ownership, parishioner and clergy energy use, transportation – but the important thing is as Church, with all churches and faith groups and with civil society, we are fully united on this. This is the keystone of the call to discipleship today. The call to action gives us today a practical and concrete mandate. And it will cost.

I may still hear some people asking, so what does this have to do with faith? What does it have to do with me, with us? For me, one of the key messages of Laudato Si’ is its connection to Francis’ earlier document, Fratelli Tutti, All Brothers and Sisters. It is part of a seamless teaching garment. By taking care of the planet, we take care of each other, each of us on this earth united because we are created in the image and likeness of God. And the less we care about our planet, the more we contribute to what is becoming the growing divide between rich and poor, the privileged and the disenfranchised on the fringes of the city, by the side of the road. The Church is tackling the looming cost of living crisis through increased food banks and homeless services, but that’s just a plaster. As a Church, we must respond to the gospel call to radically rethink how we occupy this planet, how we equitably share resources, how we walk humbly and act with justice, and we must speak it loud. and strong.

May all our efforts therefore always be rooted in the call to be truer disciples of him. May we take up this cross today and together answer this call to be good and faithful stewards who do not count the price of a constant conversion of heart in his name.

For more information on the Environmental Network of Southern Dioceses (SDEN), see: https://westminsterjusticeandpeace.org/season-of-creation-1st-september-4th-october/

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