Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 27, 2011 – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49:14-15 1 Cor 4:1-5 Mt 6:24-34

Worries…who doesn’t have some? We worry about the economy and paying bills. We worry about children catching diseases. We worry about the outcomes of what’s happening in the mid-east. We worry about global warming. Some days we can laugh at our worries knowing that a good outcome is likely. Other days we can be consumed by anxiety. And what do we get for all that worry?—nothing, absolutely nothing!

Jesus tells us not to worry today. In today’s gospel reading we see Jesus telling us to worry about no aspect of our lives. Rather, he told us, trust God for all our needs and go about our lives peacefully. The advice could make us wonder if Jesus were unrealistic about the demands of life. Not worry! How is that possible?

If we remember that Jesus was always intimately connected to God, then we might have an idea of what Jesus meant. When we think about God, we realize that God lives in eternity where there is no past or future. Instead, God lives in the eternal now. It is you and I who live linear lives that start at birth and end with death. When we worry, we are anxious about something we did in the past or we worry about something that may happen in the future. We cannot go backward and alter the past any more than we can go forward into the future and so know ahead of time what will happen. The past and the future simply are not present to us. Therefore, we can only live in the present. Living in the present, we are able to pay attention to what is happening now and respond in the most loving way possible. By living out of Christian love, we will have no regrets about the past and may hope that the fruit of love will be good.

If we think that worry about global warming will aid in avoiding climate change in the future, we are very much mistaken. Worrying takes up our attention and our energy in the here and now while our positive action on behalf of the climate is needed instead. Worry is a thief! It steals us from our present and does nothing good for the past or the present. Instead of worry, Jesus invites us to live in God’s presence now and trust that by our attention to the present moment, God will care for all our needs and bring about good.

Carmelite Father Ernest E. Larken of happy memory wrote, “The given moment is the only place one can meet God. In God there is not time, only the eternal now. God lives in that now moment on the other side of the veil that separates time from eternity. We enter the vestibule of that ‘now’ when we concentrate on the present moment. Our beloved God is there, and it behooves us to be there as well. To enter the now moment is to let anxiety fall off our shoulders and be renewed in hope by touching the God who loves us.” (Taken from Ernest E.Larken’s article, Christian Mindfulness, published in Review for Religious at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/34399778/Christian-Mindfulness.)

Let us all reach out whenever worry threatens to steal our time from us and touch the God who loves us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February 20, 2011 – 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lev 19:1-2, 17-18 1 Cor 3:16-23 Mt 5:38-48

One powerful scene that stood out for me in the first Harry Potter movie occurred when Hagrid the groundskeeper came to tell Harry that he was invited to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He told Harry, “You’re a wizard Harry; a thumpin’ good one, too, I’d wager.” Eleven year old Harry responded saying, “A wizard? Me, a wizard? No, I’m Harry, just Harry.” He could not believe that he had within him the powers of a wizard and he had to be convinced that he was not only a wizard but the one who was destined to defeat the archenemy, Voldemort.

How many of us say the very same kind of thing when we are told, “You’re a temple.” A temple? Me, a temple? No, I’m just plain Jane. Or, I’m just ordinary Sam. I’m just–a sinner! Today Saint Paul wants to convince us that we are more than “just” anything. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” What a powerful message St. Paul wrote to us in the first letter to the Corinthians. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I wonder what would happen to our world if every single Christian took that message to heart. You and I are temples precisely because we have received the Holy Spirit.

Think of the great temples: the Temple of Zeus from the Greek Empire, the Temple of Isis from the Roman Empire, and the Temple of Jerusalem in Judaism. In every great temple there were rituals and behavior proper to the dignity of the place. In Jerusalem the temple had courts that were designated according to who could or could not enter. The Holy of Holies was considered so sacred that only the high priest could enter to make offerings to God. And even then, he had to undergo ritual cleansings and wear clothing fit for the All-Knowing and Almighty God.

Now, St. Paul tells us—you and me—that we are the temple of God. Therefore, we must be holy because God is holy. Imagine if we really grasped the significance of that. I suspect that if we truly understood those words, we would kneel or genuflect in one another’s presence! Our words would be filled with graciousness and we would be solicitous about the well-being of every Christian. Imagine what it would be like in our homes if we regarded every family member reverently because each one is a Temple of God’s Spirit. How the world would change!

I want to consider God’s indwelling Spirit from another angle today. As we know, God is everywhere, absolutely everywhere. God is in the deepest regions of space and very close to us, even in the tiny interstitial spaces in our own bodies. God is even in the subatomic spaces between electrons and quarks. It seems that God is so interested in the cosmos, that the All Holy and Almighty God is present to it all.

If I consider that God is present in every aspect of creation, every bit of nature, then I must also be in awe of the God that cares to dwell among us in the flora and the fauna of our Earth. God is even present in the non-living beings of Earth—the soil, the oceans, and in the air we breathe. No wonder the psalmist cried out, “Where can I go to flee you?” He did not want to escape from God but instead he was captivated by the loving presence of God wherever he was. Just like the temples that evoke from us a response of awe and reverence, so can creation. “Do you not know that this planet is God’s temple?” we might ask ourselves. If we realized that every step we take, every trip through the air, every stroke we swim through the water is done in God’s holy presence, we would probably faint for joy! How extraordinary our lives really are if we stop to think about it: we live in the Holy Presence and It lives in us.

If we recognized the Holy Presence of God in every living creature, would we treat them any differently than we do now? If we understood that God dwells in the soil beneath our feet, could we ever exhaust the land or throw poison in it? If we truly gasped in delight as we drank in the sweet air, could we ever spew CO2 or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere? I think not! We need a new reverence for this planet and all her species because every bit of it is filled with the Divine Spirit. This Presence suggests that we open new eyes on our Earth. So, let’s begin a new habit this week. Each time that we gaze on some aspect of nature, including all people, let’s say aloud, “This, too, is the temple of the Holy Spirit!”

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons


About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.