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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 33rd Sunday B – Church of the Resurrection, Mallow, 14th November 2021

33rd Sunday B

Church of the Resurrection, Mallow

14th November, 2021

Apocalyptic Anxiety

My friends,

Around the time of the Millennium, we heard a lot of predictions about the end of the world. Some were scared by it and most took no notice. Those who ignored these prophets of doom did so because history records many times over the centuries when similar forecasts were made and proved to be untrue. However, for those who take these predictions of global apocalyptic catastrophises to heart – it can lead to their lives being marked by deep levels of fear and anxiety.

With all the talk around climate change there is a similar kind of gloom and catastrophe being visited on many sensitive people to-day and it makes them fearful and anxious. Some children are being deeply affected and are scared.

Those who deny the changes taking place in climate across the world are a shrinking minority. So, we should be grateful that the growing political acceptance has led to COP26 in Glasgow of which we have heard so much over these past two weeks.

It looks like a real effort has been made by national leaders from across the world to reach agreement on ways in which all nations can play their part in decarbonising the atmosphere in the coming decades. While nations struggled to agree on the final document, and you can be sure some compromises were made, there is no doubt about the path that all nations are called to follow together. Agreement is difficult to reach because it will be costly – and someone has to pay. We are beginning to feel the pinch already by way of fuel and food prices.

Each of us are called to play our part in this global enterprise of caring for the earth. It is important that we do so in a spirit of love rather than fear. Pope Francis in Laudato Si -speaks of the need for an “ecological conversion” by which he means that our care for the environment is not some added responsibility to the great commandment to love God and our neighbour rather our care for earth is part and parcel of our faith – our belief in and love of God as our creator, redeemer and sanctifier. Therefore, we need to recognise our failure to care for creation as sinful – a sinfulness we need to admit, confess and seek the mercy and forgiveness of God and of our brothers and sisters as we do in the Confiteor.

So let our care for creation be a labour of love rather than a fear.

In St. Paul’s day there were people who did not marry or do any work because they believed the world was ending soon. St Paul had to reprimand them to see that the “Parousia” was far away and get back into life. The same might be said to some couples who are refusing to have children because they fear the kind of world in which they will have to grow up. What a pity! – that is certainly living in fear. The challenge of climate change should not distort our balanced sense of life – should not blind us to the good that lies in the heart and spirit – despite our sinfulness.

Our sense of faith can help us to keep this balance – it gives an awareness of our blessings in friends, family and creation. It especially helps us to accept our sin and weakness while always assuring us of the grace of God as always being sufficient for the challenges we face.

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