17th Sunday B
25th July 2021
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“They will eat and have some leftover”
The scorching heat experienced in north western U.S., and Canada recently was unprecedented. The flooding experienced in Germany and Belgium in the last few weeks is probably the worst on record. The plight of the people in Madagascar is bringing scenes of famine to our screens again.
All these realities can be linked to climate change. Scientists are predicting a more frequent occurrence of these catastrophic events due to global warming and resultant change in our weather patterns.
These thoughts come to mind as we are invited to link the Word of God to our life situations. Each of the readings speak of satisfying the hunger of the crowds or meeting the needs and desires of the hungry heart. Both Elisha, the man of God, and Jesus, the Son of God, ask that whatever is available be given to the people to eat. In both instances there is doubt expressed if there will be enough to go ‘round. In fact, there was more than enough.
We are still in the middle of Covid – still uncertain of its long-term effect on the world. It is too early to say – we know many are suffering the effects of long Covid.
Overall, we are optimistic because of the development of vaccines and it has been great to witness. Yet we know that none are safe until all are safe. And the poor of the earth have not been vaccinated and despite generous commitments it is proving much too slow.
In regard to Covid – tomorrow sees the reopening of inside dining in pubs and restaurants with the signing of the necessary legislation by the President. The President also signed another piece of legislation which will have a more far-reaching impact on all our lives into this decade’s end and to 2050. It is called Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment Act 2021). Its content commits the nation to very ambitious reduction in carbon emissions into the foreseeable future. We will feel its first impact in this year’s budget and every other budget thereafter. Transport and agriculture will be hugely affected directly. It will affect us all on a practical level but it also has a deep spiritual dimension too. Pope Francis, for whom we pray for his recovery from his recent surgery, has designated this Sunday as Grandparents Day – a day in which the Church seeks to deepen our appreciation of the role of grandparents in family life – as those who can share the wisdom and inspiration with a new generation. To-day is a first but no doubt it is a theme we will enrich and draw from in the years ahead.
Probably, of greater immediate importance for us are his two letters Laudato Si (2015) – on care for the earth and Fratelli Tutti (2020) – on care for the whole human family. These messages from Pope Francis have been built on the thought and teaching of the Popes who have preceded him. Yet Pope Francis, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit brings a special insight and teaching for the Church and the world. He takes the expertise of the scientists on board and fuses their knowledge with inspiration and the vision of God, our Creator, made known in Jesus, Our Lord, our brother and Saviour.
Pope Francis speaks of a human ecology, an environment which enables the human person, women and men, girls and boys, live with dignity and purpose. He speaks too, of an ecological conversion and commitment whereby each of us undergo an inner change so that we see and understand our care for each other and our care for the environment not as some added extra to life but as part and parcel of our inner, spiritual life. And when we do, we become agents of climate justice by which we lessen the impact of climate change in Madagascar, Kenya, South Sudan and other parts of the world which are vulnerable.
In this way our ecological conversion is a green shoot in contributing to the common good of humanity.
Currently, the so-called developed world is addicted to consumption, disposal and novelty. The crowds of our time, hunger for the basics of food, security and shelter. Covid reminds the world of our time, that none are safe until all are safe.