32nd Sunday B
Church of Our Lady Conceived Without Sin, Mitchelstown
7th November, 2021
The widow’s mite and climate change
Like many others I thought that with all the vaccination we would have broken the back of Covid by now. It is clear that with cases increasing that is not the case. Like others too, I thought it was a time to begin again to make contact with the parishes. I am glad of the opportunity to celebrate with you to-day. Live streaming has been a blessing when we could not gather in person but it is not the same as our personal presence to one another in prayer. Saying that, I appreciate there are many of you who, rightly, continue to be cautious of the risk involved. Covid has not gone away and we have to continue to be vigilant by social-distancing, wearing a mask inside and hand sanitising. It is a nuisance on one level but think of the common good that is at stake.
The scripture readings from the 1 Kings, Hebrews and St. Mark’s gospel all have a focus in different ways on people who have been agents of God’s providence of his generous love in the world. These different readings fit very well with the questions being addressed at the meeting of so many world leaders in Glasgow called COP26 on the challenge of climate change. What is at stake is the future of humanity, the entire human family – who need food and shelter to live in dignity of body and spirit.
Much of the talk is about what the future will be like if we do not make certain changes. But we forget this damage to the environment is already being felt in many parts of the world. Consequently, there are right now millions of people whose lives are desperate because the weather patterns that enabled them to feed and clothe themselves in the past have changed so dramatically that once rich pastureland is yielding to growing desertification.
From personal experience in my work with Trócaire, I have seen this destruction of a way of life. Accordingly, it is to meet this current need that leads to Trócaire seeking your support to-day. They are already on the ground in the countries of East Africa working with local teams to ensure malnutrition and waterborne disease is prevented. I know these people, fine people who really appreciate your generosity.
If we think beyond the immediate current needs – the growing damage of climate change will lead to even greater levels of migration unless the global north really makes serious efforts to build the economies in the global south. Therefore, these issues along with Covid will be part and parcel of the global agenda for the coming years.
Our gathering in faith in response to the Lord’s invitation “to do this in memory of me” keeps us grounded in Christian hope and love. Great as the challenges may seem, the love of God has no limits, the love of God reflected and witnessed through us can do so much more than we can imagine. It is truly amazing what God multiplies from the smallest gifts given to a generous heart.
Thus, Elijah declared
“Jar of meal shall not be spent
Jug of oil shall not be emptied
before the day when the Lord sends
rain on the face of the earth”
So too of the widow who gave so generously from what little she had. The great curse of the wealthy is greed – of never having enough, of never being satisfied.
The climate crisis has been building for many years now. The key to any solution will come from a spirit of generosity born of care for the common good. Pope Francis anchors that reality for us as disciples of Lord Jesus in his Encyclical Fratelli Tutti – Brothers and Sisters all. Our cry to God in the heavens must be matched by our call for one another on this earth we call our common home.
The world is richly blessed – there is enough for all – we need to manage it justly.