I wish to talk about Care for God’s Creation. For two reasons:
1. Because today’s Gospel contains nature parables, and
2. Because I went to the National Kateri Tekakwitha Conference in the Twin Cities last week.
The Catholic Church has designated three saints as patron saints of ecology: Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Therese of the Little Flower, and Saint Kateri Tekawitha. These three saints had the same attitude toward nature: They saw God in everything: in the soil, in the rocks, in the water, in the plants, in every animal and in every person. They gave praise to God for the beauty of the earth, and they call us to care for Gods’ creation. They call us to have healthy relationships with the soil, the air, and the water.
Saint Francis lived 800 years ago. His attitude toward nature was simple and direct: Saint Francis saw God in everything, and he loved and praised God in all creation.
The second patron saint of the environment is Saint Therese of the Little Flower. She lived in the nineteenth century, and she said: “I don’t look through books for beautiful prayers. Instead, I look to the flowers, and they remind me of God’s love and providence, and they help me to pray.” She also said, “Jesus set us before the book of nature for our inspiration.” Saint Therese often used the imagery of nature to explain how God is everywhere and how God is holding everything in his loving arms.
Saint Kateri is a Native American saint, and she was canonized by Pope Benedict on October 21, 2012. She lived in the 17th century in the regions that would later become New York state and Canada. She often went to the woods - alone - to speak to God and to listen to God in the voice of nature. The bishop of Ogdensburg, New York, says “Kateri was a child of nature, and her sainthood inspires the minds and hearts of those who love nature and work for ecology.”
We have this quote from Pope John Paul II: “Nature must be protected because nature is a Gospel that speaks to us of God.”
Pope Benedict the Sixteenth said: “Our earth speaks to us. We must listen to the earth if we want to survive.” Pope Francis said in his encyclical concerning care for God’s creation: “We praise the Lord through Mother Earth, our sister. We must remember that we are the dust of the earth. We are dust and unto dust we shall return. We breathe the air of Planet Earth, and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.” Jesus used parables from nature when he was teaching. His parables call us to treat nature with respect and to go to nature to hear messages from God. One day he saw lilies growing in a field and he said, “Look at how God cares about the lilies of the field Making them more beautiful than the fine linen clothing that King Solomon wore. God cares about the lilies of the field and God cares even more about you.” One day Jesus saw a mustard tree and he said that the Christian community might be compared to a mustard plant. He said that after the mustard grows to maturity the birds of the sky can dwell in its branches. The mustard tree represents the Christian community, and the Christian Community brings blessings to every kind of person. Not just to its own kind. Jesus has a vision which says that every kind of bird can nest in the mustard tree and every kind of person can find a home in the Christian community. In other words, all are welcome. In today’s Gospel Jesus uses two images from the world of nature: the pearl of great price and the fish in the net. One day a merchant finds a very valuable pearl. He knows the value of this pearl became he knows his trade. He sells everything that he has and buys that pearl. So, what is Jesus saying here? He is saying, “My values have long lasting worth because they will save your souls. My values are the pearl of great price. Get rid of your secular values and buy into my values. Jesus says: I value serving others without seeking reward. It’s time to sell off your policy of climbing to the top on the backs of others. Serving others has the top ranking in my kingdom. Jesus says, “I value giving over receiving. It’s time to sell off your value of possessiveness. It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The second parable is about the fish caught in the net and it is about the Christian community. This parable says that the Christian community is like a net thrown into the sea which collects fish of every kind. Notice his choice of words: every kind of fish. All are welcome. But then the parable moves into the future, and it talks about what will happen at the end of time. The fishermen will put the good fish into buckets and throw away the bad fish. Before the end of time…… Some people will become like the bad fish. They will use their free will to make bad choices. They will set aside the two great commandments: love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor. They will reject the Lord and they will hurt their neighbors with stealing and lying and cheating and many kinds of abuse. And if they don’t repent and return to Jesus and follow his two great commandments they will be like the bad fish and the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace. And the good fish will be taken into the kingdom of heaven. I will finish with my conclusion. When He was teaching, Jesus would turn to nature to get messages from God. And we will follow in his path if we care for creation and let God’s creation give us messages from above.