March 6, Fourth Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
2) 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
This week’s Gospel story of the prodigal son has always captivated me with its image of God the Father waiting with open arms, constantly ready to take his wayward child back into his loving embrace. There are so many facets to this parable’s message: the father’s unconditional love and mercy; the prodigal recognizing his sin and the joy of reconciliation; the sibling’s loyalty and how his resentment caused separation.
But who would think it has anything to do with climate change?
Well, think of “squander” and “a life of dissipation,” — or simply “prodigal,” which means wastefully extravagant — as the Scripture describes the son’s behavior.
Think of the father lovingly bestowing on his son all the resources he needed to maintain the good life he’d had under his parent’s care. Think of the son using up his inheritance that would have allowed him to ensure that same life for subsequent generations of his family.
When I read Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si'” (“On Care for Our Common Home”), I got only as far as Paragraph 2 before I thought of the prodigal son.
The document reminds us that God has generously provided for all the needs of humanity through his gift of the natural world. Many of us, especially in the wealthiest countries, have wantonly, selfishly spent God’s gift of creation with increasingly wasteful consumption and depletion of its resources.
Does the parable of the prodigal son apply here? Is it a sin when I waste water or fail to speak up when my own electricity provider is destroying the habitat of endangered species? Of course it is.
In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis quotes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians: “For human beings … to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth … to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air and its life — these are sins.”
Through his emphatic reiteration of Catholic social teaching in “Laudato Si’,” our pope calls us to turn away from these sins and return to God’s loving embrace where we can care for his gift of creation as he desires for the common good and generations to come.
How have your personal lifestyle and habits contributed to damaging the earth’s ecology? This Lent, what can you do to reconcile and deepen your relationship with God’s creation?