A reflection on question 14 by Kathy Langer, director of Social Concerns, Catholic Charities.
Q. What does it mean to show mercy to the planet? What can you do to show such mercy?
Mercy challenges our whole way of being, including how we live on the earth. I am reminded of the old depiction of an individual with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, portraying the decisions humans make between good and evil. On one shoulder we have the consumerist and materialistic mentality. We are told often on billboards, on tv and social media that we need and deserve more and better things! The earth is to be used for our benefit and our benefit alone. In contrast in our other ear we hear the words of Pope Francis about how important it is to care for our “common home,” the earth, and to practice “responsible stewardship” because “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” We are reminded that our selfishness hurts those who are most vulnerable and are the poorest in our world.
So what can we do to listen to this angel in our ear? Bishop Kettler reminds us that our responsibility to build the reign of God on earth “consistently calls us to use the resources entrusted to us for the good of all, not just for ourselves”. So how do we do that? First of all, we pray, asking God to create in us a spirit of respect and care for the earth, our common home. Then we act! Here are some possibilities…
- live more simply and consume less, therefore creating less “filth”
- decide to recycle in a more intentional way and reuse all that you can
- use and promote distribution of rescued food and waste less
- take the St. Francis Pledge (http://www.catholicclimatecovenant.org/pledge) and take action on climate change
- work in your business, and/or farm, to limit the use of pollutants and promote reuse and recycling
- promote public policy that takes respect for the earth into consideration
- use less of the earth’s resources, that is less water when showering/brushing teeth, less paper and paper products, less energy in your home
What is the angel on your shoulder saying to you about care for our common home? Be sure to listen with the ear of your heart!