“In this Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family.” Pope Francis, Earth Day 2020
The growing signs of springtime wonder can help renew us as we deal with this third wave of the pandemic. Our own health and wellbeing is deeply interconnected with the health and wellbeing of others and our common planetary home. Yet inequalities are deepening as climate change, the pandemic and vaccine shortage continue to disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable.
The pandemic has not put climate change on hold. Earlier this month NOAA reported that greenhouse gas emissions surged in 2020 despite pandemic shutdowns. Carbon dioxide reached a level last seen on earth around 3.6 million years ago when sea levels were about 78 feet higher and large forests grew in the Arctic.
“Advent is a continuous call to hope…Let us try to bring out the good even from the difficult situation that the pandemic imposes upon us” Pope Francis, November 29, 2020.
People of faith seeking to “change the wind” towards justice and compassion
In an Advent reflection, Fr. Ron Rolheiser gives an example of hope from Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners, of how people of faith helped bring down apartheid in South Africa. They prayed and placed lit candles in their windows for all to see a sign of their hope that apartheid would end. Despite their government making the lit candles a crime, that prayerful act of hope “changed the wind in South Africa” and helped end apartheid. Wallis explains that politicians make decisions based on which way the wind is blowing so hope’s task is “to change the wind”.
Season of Creation’s invitation to rest and restoration for the Earth community
Christians around the world are coming together to pray and care for creation during the ecumenical Season of Creation which has just begun, running from September 1st, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Jubilee for the Earth is the Season of Creation 2020 theme. In the biblical tradition, every 50th year was a Jubilee year involving release from indebtedness, restorative justice and rest for creation. In a joint invitation to participate in the Season of Creation, faith leaders reflect on the meaning of Jubilee today, stating “As we live into a post-COVID-19 world, can we imagine new just and sustainable ways of living that give the Earth the rest it requires, that satisfy everyone with enough, that restore habitats and renew biological diversity?... We encourage the entire Christian family to join us in this special time to pray, reflect, and take bold action to realize a Jubilee for the Earth."