Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41
It is the early days of Jesus’ ministry. He has a crowd of people running after him; they like what he’s saying and they hear that he works miracles. He is all the rage. Today’s Gospel shows how little they comprehended: Who is this whom even wind and sea obey? Suddenly something changes in their relationship to Jesus. Fear! They are terrified of him. “Who is this guy?” They will come to understand later when they realize, You are the Son of God. But for now they are really shaken up.
This past week Pope Francis released his new encyclical on the environment. It is powerful; it is profound…but it is long. And it is controversial. It needs to be read and studied. Pope Francis speaks against our present day values and convictions. Some will fight it and some will ignore it. But the seed has been cast upon the earth and, where the soil is ready for it, it will bear fruit. The media will surely sensationalize it and then quickly forget it. Many will likely be blind to its importance to our world.
In fact this encyclical is terrifying, just as Jesus terrified his followers by showing them his divine power. Pope Francis has terrifying things to say in this encyclical; let me quote: ” The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” “Never have we hurt and so mistreated our common home as we have in the last hundred years.” “We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth.” This is pretty strong language which we are not accustomed to hearing from a pope! Is this the same pope whom everyone loves?
Here’s more. “Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference or helpless resignation, or blind confidence in technical solutions. ” “It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive.”
Pope Francis is not trying to be negative. For those who listen to him, he also offers inspiration. “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” “Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future, without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”
Pope Francis has a purpose in speaking to us in this way. “Our goal is to make people painfully aware to dare to turn what is happening in the world into our own personal suffering, and thus discover what each of us can do about it.” “This century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” “A great challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” “Truly much can be done.”
Pope Francis reminds us that it is God who requires this of us. “A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of developing our power.” “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love.”
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was nearly filling up. Jesus stood up in the boat and shouted: Quiet! Be still! God’s love spoke and there was great calm.
Our world today–is it not that same boat swamping with water? People are crying out around us. Pope Francis in his encyclical is calling on all those who call themselves Catholics, those who say they are Christians, those who seek to live faithful to their responsibility for God’s creation. Pope Francis takes the disciples words to Jesus, and applies them now to each of us: Do you not care that we are perishing?