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Laudato Si’ – Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation (Part 2)

VII. The gaze of Jesus

96. Jesus took up the biblical faith in God the Creator, emphasizing a fundamental truth: God is Father (cf. Mt 11:25). In talking with his disciples, Jesus would invite them to recognize the paternal relationship God has with all his creatures. With moving tenderness he would remind them that each one of them is important in God’s eyes: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Lk 12:6). “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt 6:26).

97. The Lord was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder. As he made his way throughout the land, he often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive a divine message in things: “Lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest” (Jn 4:35). “The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but once it has grown, it is the greatest of plants” (Mt 13:31-32).

98. Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:27). His appearance was not that of an ascetic set apart from the world, nor of an enemy to the pleasant things of life. Of himself he said: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard!’” (Mt 11:19). He was far removed from philosophies which despised the body, matter and the things of the world. Such unhealthy dualisms, nonetheless, left a mark on certain Christian thinkers in the course of history and disfigured the Gospel. Jesus worked with his hands, in daily contact with the matter created by God, to which he gave form by his craftsmanship. It is striking that most of his life was dedicated to this task in a simple life which awakened no admiration at all: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:3). In this way he sanctified human labour and endowed it with a special significance for our development. As Saint John Paul II taught, “by enduring the toil 73 of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity”.79

99. In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16).80 The prologue of the Gospel of John (1:1-18) reveals Christ’s creative work as the Divine Word (Logos). But then, unexpectedly, the prologue goes on to say that this same Word “became flesh” (Jn 1:14). One Person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing in his lot with it, even to the cross. From the beginning of the world, but particularly through the incarnation, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy.

100. The New Testament does not only tell us of the earthly Jesus and his tangible and loving relationship with the world. It also shows him risen and glorious, present throughout creation by his universal Lordship: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20). This leads us to direct our gaze to the end of time, when the Son will deliver all things to the Father, so that “God may be everything to every one” (1 Cor 15:28). Thus, the creatures of this world no longer appear to us under merely natural guise because the risen One is mysteriously holding them to himself and directing them towards fullness as their end. The very flowers of the field and the birds which his human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with his radiant presence.

36 John Paul II, Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 15: AAS 82 (1990), 156.

37 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357.

38 Angelus in Osnabrück (Germany) with the disabled, 16 November 1980: Insegnamenti 3/2 (1980), 1232.

39 Benedict XVI, Homily for the Solemn Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry (24 April 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 711.

40 Cf. Bonaventure, The Major Legend of Saint Francis, VIII, 1, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, New York-London-Manila, 2000, 586.

41 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2416

42 German Bishops’ Conference, Zukunft der Schöpfung – Zukunft der Menschheit. Einklärung der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz zu Fragen der Umwelt und der Energieversorgung, (1980), II, 2.

43 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 339.

44 Hom. in Hexaemeron, I, 2, 10: PG 29, 9.

45 The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, 145.

46 Benedict XVI, Catechesis (9 November 2005), 3: Insegnamenti 1 (2005), 768.

47 Id., Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 51: AAS 101 (2009), 687.

48 John Paul II, Catechesis (24 April 1991), 6: Insegnamenti 14 (1991), 856.

49 The Catechism explains that God wished to create a world which is “journeying towards its ultimate perfection”, and that this implies the presence of imperfection and physical evil; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 310.

50 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 36.

51 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, art. 1 ad 4.

52 Id., In octo libros Physicorum Aristotelis expositio, Lib. II, lectio 14.

53 Against this horizon we can set the contribution of Fr Teilhard de Chardin; cf. Paul VI, Address in a Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant (24 February 1966): Insegnamenti 4 (1966), 992-993; John Paul II, Letter to the Reverend George Coyne (1 June 1988): Insegnamenti 11/2 (1988), 1715; Benedict XVI, Homily for the Celebration of Vespers in Aosta (24 July 2009): Insegnamenti 5/2 (2009), 60

54 John Paul II, Catechesis (30 January 2002),6: Insegnamenti 25/1 (2002), 140.

55 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Commission, Pastoral Letter You Love All that Exists… All Things are Yours, God, Lover of Life” (4 October 2003), 1.

56 Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, Reverence for Life. A Message for the Twenty-First Century (1 January 2000), 89.

57 John Paul II, Catechesis (26 January 2000), 5: Insegnamenti 23/1 (2000), 123.

58 Id., Catechesis (2 August 2000), 3: Insegnamenti 23/2 (2000), 112.

59 Paul Ricoeur, Philosophie de la Volonté, t. II: Finitude et Culpabilité, Paris, 2009, 216.

60 Summa Theologiae, I, q. 47, art. 1.

61 Ibid.

62 Cf. Ibid., art. 2, ad 1; art. 3.

63 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 340.

64 Canticle of the Creatures, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, New York-London-Manila, 1999, 113-114.

65 Cf. National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil, A Igreja e a Questão Ecológica, 1992, 53-54.

66 Ibid., 61.

67 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 215: AAS 105 (2013), 1109.

68 Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 14: AAS 101 (2009), 650.

69 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2418.

70 Conference of Dominican Bishops, Pastoral Letter Sobre la relación del hombre con la naturaleza (21 January 1987).

71 John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981), 19: AAS 73 (1981), 626.

72 Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 31: AAS 83 (1991), 831.

73 Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987), 33: AAS 80 (1988), 557.

74 Address to Indigenous and Rural People, Cuilapán, Mexico (29 January 1979), 6: AAS 71 (1979), 209.

75 Homily at Mass for Farmers, Recife, Brazil (7 July 1980): AAS 72 (1980): AAS 72 (1980), 926.

76 Cf. Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 8: AAS 82 (1990), 152.

77 Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference, Pastoral Letter El campesino paraguayo y la tierra (12 June 1983), 2, 4, d.

78 New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Statement on Environmental Issues (1 September 2006).

79 Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981), 27: AAS 73 (1981), 645. 80 Hence Saint Justin could speak of “seeds of the Word” in the world; cf. II Apologia 8, 1-2; 13, 3-6: PG 6, 457-458, 467.

Introduction

Chapter One: What is Happening to Our Common Home
I. Pollution and climate change
II. The issue of water
III. Loss of biodiversity
IV. Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society
V. Global inequality
VI. Weak responses
VII. A variety of opinions

Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation
I. The light offered by faith
II. The wisdom of the biblical accounts
III. The mystery of the universe
IV. The message of each creature in the harmony of creation
V. A universal communion
VI. The common destination of goods
VII. The gaze of Jesus

Chapter Three: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
I. Technology: Creativity and power
II. The globalization of the technocratic paradigm
III. The crisis and effects of modern anthropocentrism

Chapter Four: Integral Ecology
I. Environmental, economic and social ecology
II. Cultural ecology
III. Ecology of daily life
IV. The principle of the common good
V. Justice between the generations

Chapter Five: Lines of Approach and Action
I. Dialogue on the environment in the international community
II. Dialogue for new national and local policies
III. Dialogue and transparency in decision-making
IV. Politics and economy in dialogue for human fulfillment
V. Religions in dialogue with science

Chapter Six: Ecological Education and Spirituality
I. Towards a new lifestyle
II. Educating for the covenant between humanity and the environment
III. Ecological conversion
IV. Joy and peace
V. Civic and political love
VI. Sacramental signs and the celebration of rest
VII. The Trinity and the relationship between creatures
VIII. Queen of all creation
IX. Beyond the sun

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