Saturday, 28 January 2017

It's not easy being green

Gospel Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes are so important that they return more than once in the Church's calendar. They are subversive and challenging; questioning the way we live and the way that will lead to God's Kingdom. Jesus tells us that the Kingdom already exists here on earth; on our planet. But how hard is that to believe?

The Beatitudes shout out for a faith in social justice that is almost too hard to fight for because it means that you (and me) become less and less important. The current economic and political climate screams 'Me first'. 

Exploitation and suffering is never right; but  we believe there is little we can do about it. It is a global problem in more ways than one. Away in Jesus' time, the Lord was able to say that the lilies of the fields and the sparrows of the sky could live without worry because their Father was looking after them. Now the fields and the skies are empty. The humans that God gave dominion to are not taking their responsibilities very seriously. Exploitation and suffering is something that is being felt not only by humanity but by the world that God called 'very good' and we regard as 'not good enough'.

Pope Francis recently wrote his thoughts on the environment. Laudato Si describes the shared understanding from the faith and scientific communities that recognise the destructive influence of humanity and the need to forsake the 'I'm alright Jack attitude' for the sake of future generations, both human and non-human. I thought I should take up the challenge myself. Maybe these would be the Bee-atitudes?

‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Be one of those who knows that the world is not all about them; be someone who is humble enough to understand that their own uniqueness only serves to prove just how precious every part of Creation is; to value even the smallest, most insignificant of God's creatures.

Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Be considerate; care for the earth as a living thing. The injuries caused by exploitation of oil, water and land cause scars that may never heal.  Damage caused through pollution and waste sicken the air and water, the veins and arteries of the planet. If the earth is our heritage then it should be respected as a mother or a grandmother as the early peoples used to do. After all, we have nowhere else to go; no-one else to take us in.

Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Be aware. No-one likes bad news, particularly bad news that hits close to home. Easier to turn up the power levels in your home so that you are warm and comfortable and sit watching celebrity tv.
Fourteen more species of animal have become extinct during the 21st century; 20% of Amazon rainforest destroyed in last 40 years; this has been the shortest arctic winter in history triggering more fears of rising sea levels. What is not to mourn? Our only comfort in realising that there must be something we can do something about it.

Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.
Be involved. There are organisations, Christian organisations that seek to help; A Rocha; CAFOD; Charter for Compassion; Catholic Climate Covenant; the Resurgence Trust all have the satisfaction of working towards a better world. Join them?

Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Definition of mercy - Compassion for those under one's power
Definition of Compassion - Deep awareness of suffering and the desire to relieve it
Be gracious. God gives us dominion over all - this is our realm - how we treat the world is our decision. Even if we cannot relate to the natural world itself all these actions reflect on the lives of others. The neglect of the the natural world is reflected in the neglect of human life. 'As you do to the least of these....'

Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Be wholehearted. There is a theory that everything we do is for our own sake; that our actions will always be 'all about me'. Maybe there is an element of truth - I will feel better if I am doing the right thing; I will feel good if I am pleasing God; I will feel pure in heart if what I do does not undermine or take advantage of others. Listen to your conscience, buy Fairtrade and other ethical clothing, trading goods and foodstuffs.

Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.
Be a voice for peace. War is one of the greatest threats to the planet. It uses up money; resources; people; time; energy and opportunity. The cost of building walls and strengthening borders runs high with both economic and humanitarian cost.  Borders are man made - environmental issues know no such boundaries.How can you clean a river in one country when the pollution is caused in another, hostile territory? How can you come together to plan for the future when you are too busy arguing about the mistakes of the past or the greed and politics of the present?

Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you
and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’

Be yourself and don't expect it to be easy. As Christians we are called to be stewards; all people in the other great faiths have similar responsibilities. This is the world that the Lord has made; we should rejoice and glad in it; but there's a cost. To stand up for what we believe will always result in being made fun of; being the odd one out; being labelled a do-gooder or a doom and gloom merchant. Some people will not see the need for change; will live 'right here, right now'. As Kermit the Frog would say 'it's not easy being green'. but, like Kermit, it is part of who we are-  as Christians, as human beings -  since the Sixth Day.


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