At today's general audience in Rome, Pope Francis had this to say:
Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history; it is part of His project; it means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone. Benedict XVI recalled several times that this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not “care” for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation; thus we are no longer able to read what Benedict XVI calls "the rhythm of the love story of God and man." Why does this happen? Why do we think and live in a horizontal manner, we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.
I find these words inspiring and challenging. The pope helps me to understand that the mandate given in Genesis--to care for God's creation--is still meant for me today. I strive as hard as I can to see what surrounds me each day as part of that wonderful garden of creation. I live in downtown Chicago and sometimes I have to look pretty intently to discover the beauty of this garden. Praise God, more often than not, I see the wonders, even in the little things.
As I read these words this morning, I was reminded of a parallel situation that I have come to understand more and more in my daily life. In Mark 16:15, the Lord issued the mandate to his disciples at the time of his ascension: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." In my earlier adult years, I kind of hid behind this message, thinking that Christ certainly could not have meant that mandate for me. He meant this for missionaries, people like Bl. Mother Theresa, or Bl. Pope John Paul II, or Billy Graham. These were people that I was seeing actually going out "into all the world." Slowly, I have begun to realize that, at least for me, the "world" to which Christ sends me is not the world "out there" waiting to be evangelized. It is the world that is the day to day reality of my life. The "world" to which I am called to "preach the gospel to all creation" is the world of my home life, the world of my carpool, the world of my circle of friends, the world of my family, the world of my colleagues here at World Library Publications and the J.S. Paluch Company, the world of the Green Line trains on Chicago's transit system, the world of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Expressways here in Chicago, the world of those sitting in front of me at workshops and presentations, the quiet world of those sleepless nights. These are the worlds in which I have been planted. And it is to these worlds that I have been summoned to preach the gospel.
So, when Pope Francis talked about the "today" of cultivating the garden of creation, it reminded me that this is also my job. And aren't the words he quotes from Pope Benedict inspiring as well: "the rhythm of the love story of God and man"? Pope Francis gives us much food for thought today. I have to ask myself, "How can I know better the rhythm of the love story between God and me?" And I guess at least part of that answer has to do with cultivating a deeper sense of wonder at the creation around me, a deeper awareness of the "worlds" to which I am called to share the good news.
Lots to think about today, folks. I wanted to end today with two short videos I took while in Verona, Italy, last month. These were "wonder and awe in God's presence" moments for me. Enjoy.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.