homily – September 6

Mark 7:31-37

In this part of the world, tomorrow we will pause from our workings and celebrate Labour Day. Tuesday school begins and we will begin again to work for our living.

Maybe we could spend some time and think about how our labouring is a blessing for us and for those around us. Working was one of the curses resulting from the fall of Adam and Eve. Listen to these heavy words from Genesis “Accursed be the soil because of you – with suffering shall you get your food from it – by the sweat of your brow shall you eat your bread until you return to the soil.”

By our being sent from this Mass we are meant to reverse that curse and help God bless and heal the mess we’ve made of God’s creation. Through our labour, no matter what our different labours may be, we work with God in bringing creation into God’s kingdom.

This past week the head of the United Nations went to the North Pole to see for himself the effects climate change is having on that region of the planet. There has been meeting after meeting on climate changes and nothing is really being done about it. Nations bicker and bargain but no one is willing to bite the bullet and make a commitment that will really make a difference. That’s because such a commitment will mean drastic changes in the way we live our lives. We’ve heard it time and time again; we won’t sign an environmental treaty if it means job losses in our country. We seem to be in denial of the impact climate change will have on all of us, especially on the poorer nations of the world.

A Passionist, Fr. Thomas Berry published a book in 1999 titled The Great Work. His belief is that the great work of our generation and generations to come, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth, which has been going on from before the Industrial Revolution until now, to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. Remember how I keep saying, “the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves”. Because of over-fishing on both coasts the most abundant species of marine life have become commercially extinct, the cod on the East Coast and the salmon on the West Coast. We’ve heard of the devastation of the Amazon and different rain forests around the globe even though we know trees are the lungs of the planet.

Our great work, as humans and as Christian is to do what we can be to bring about that mutually life enhancing relationship between the human family and the earth community. This is a labour of mind and heart. It is a labour that calls us to look to our lifestyles, our consumerism, our wastefulness. It is a labour that calls us to a greater sensitivity to living conditions of billions of our brothers and sisters around the globe at whose expense we live the good life we live.

To quote Tom Berry, “Our future can exist only when we understand the universe as composed of subjects to be communed with, not as objects to be exploited. Use as our primary relationship with the planet must be abandoned.” The hymn that tells us God made us Lords of all creation and that everything is ours to use is a lie. We are not Lords we are family within creation.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” We are all in denial as regards the seriousness of our global situation. We are not reading the signs of the times.

In the gospel we see Jesus curing a man who could neither hear nor speak correctly. In many ways the earth is saying to the human family, ‘enough already’ but we are not hearing that message, we’ve closed our ears. Because we won’t hear the message we cannot speak to its solution.

On this eve of Labour Day, with today’s gospel before us, we can pray for ourselves and for our human family that we have the courage to ask Christ, the first born of all creation, for a cure. May He open our ears to hear the cry of the earth, the message the earth is giving us – enough is enough – and give us voice to speak to the earth by saying ‘yes’ as individuals and as a nation, to changes in lifestyles that can bring about the healing of ourselves and of the earth.

Nourished by the bread of life, which earth has given and human hands have made, may each of us leave this Eucharist willing to be involved in the great work that will bring about a mutually life enhancing relationship between ourselves and mother earth.