Homily for the Season of Creation 29th August 2021 Fr. Terry

Posted on 30th August, 2021

22nd Sunday Ordinary Time Homily

The Season of Creation

29 Aug 2021


Two thoughts or phrases in these readings caught my attention this weekend and I would like to share some reflections around them. These reflections do come in the context of the time of prayer and action which now comes around each year, encouraged by Pope Francis and the Leaders of all Christian Churches belonging to the World Council of Churches. I’m referring to the Season of Creation. This begins this week on the 1st of September and continues until Monday, 4th October.


You will already have seen the calendar published by the Green Churches Network, of which our church of the Archdiocese of Liverpool is a member. The calendar is called Season of Creation 2021 and is meant as an aid for us all in our prayer and action during the month. We priests, encouraged by the Archdiocese, see this month as so important that we have printed the calendar in colour for you all to take home. We would invite you not only to stick it on the fridge door, but also to refer to it each day and try to follow some of its ideas for daily actions in this season of creation.


True faith can only be seen to be true when it is put into action. Did you notice what St James wrote in his letter that we have just read in our second reading? He wrote – “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” Another way of putting that would be, “Actions speak louder than words”. Elsewhere he writes, “So too, faith by itself, if it does not result in action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (2:18) Faith, like love, leads us to act, if not, it is empty.

To come back to the phrases that struck me in preparing this Mass, the first one is this: “So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you.”


When God sealed a covenant or a friendship with Abraham, he promised him a homeland; he who was a wondering Aramean… God promised him that he would have a land that he could call his own, that would be the place in which his descendants would prosper and thrive and multiply. And God fulfilled his promise. Abraham’s descendants, known as Israel, settled in the Promised Land. They cared for it and it produced food a-plenty. The people we now call Jews have always been attached to this land. They know how important the land is to their survival as a people – or as the People of God. They know that they must care for it. For if they do not, they will lose their land and be scattered, yet again, across the world without a true identity.


To do this, they have to be inventive. They work hard today to introduce new methods of conservation of the land and the forests. They are well advanced in solar power and wind power and they have introduced irrigation in the desert, reclaiming land that was lost for centuries. That dry land is now producing great fruit. If they hadn’t changed their ways of working the land, they would still be living in the desert.  They had to abandon their traditional ways and take on new ways of farming and living off the land.


Their situation brings us back to the gospel, and this is the where Jesus condemns those who stick to traditions that no longer make sense or are no longer good for the people. For some of them, it was more important to stick to tradition than to see the needs of the people and take care of them. It was obeying traditional rules and following traditional ways that took precedence over the love of neighbour. Jesus tells them that there is only one tradition that counts and that is love your neighbour.


It is love of neighbour that tells us that we too must be willing to change. The change in climate with all the dangerous consequences that we are beginning to see around us also tells us that we must change. We cannot continue to exploit God’s creation in our now traditional manner without suffering the consequences of our selfishness and greed. We have to make changes in our traditions; changes that take into consideration the needs of the planet, of nature, of the environment. This means real changes, in our diets, in our means of travel, in the travelling we do, in the clothes that we purchase, in the things we discard simply because we want better or are tired of them.


Yes, the changes we have to make to our lifestyle are biblical – not in the sense of massive or stupendous, but in the sense that they come from the inspiration of the Word of God, from Jesus himself, who tells us that our love for each other has consequences.


The first priority in God’s eyes is how we relate to one another, in particular how we relate to the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Jesus did not hesitate to heal the sick on the Sabbath even though the tradition of the elders held that this constituted work and so was unlawful. The words and deeds of Jesus are always are best guide to what is of real value in our own tradition and our own lifestyle and what it is that may need to be put aside.


During this coming month, let us pray for the success on the Conference on Climate Change that will take place in Glasgow in November.

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