Fr. John Surette, SJ
When the native peoples of North America were the only ones living in this beautiful place it was basically an undisturbed and unspoiled wilderness with vast forests, fertile prairies, pure waters, and an abundance of wildlife. It can truly be said, that in that earlier time, it was “a land of milk and honey”. Today, as we are beginning to realize, things are now quite different.
During this season of Lent we focus our attention on the Passion of God’s Jesus. It is also a time when we need to focus our attention on the present-day Passion of God’s Earth, an Earth on which we children of Earth live our precious lives.
Our “land of milk and honey” is under ever-increasing death and destruction. Our atmosphere is warming. Our soils are eroding. Our forests are shrinking. Our prairies have all but disappeared. Our rivers are polluted. Our fisheries are collapsing. Many plants and animals are going extinct. And within our human community cancers are on the rise, immunity systems are weakening, and an increasing number of our babies are being born sick.
We now know that the Holy One is present and at work within the Universe and its Earth. We know that God pours out Godself within everything that exists from the atmosphere, soils, forest, rivers, plants, animals, and us humans. Because of this divine presence, everything and everyone is holy. As God’s Earth suffers its Passion, the divine presence within Earth becomes increasingly hidden from our eyes. If we can appreciate this fact, we will see that Earth’s Passion is a spiritual issue for us who are a people of faith, an issue that calls out for our serious attention during this Lenten season.
As we attend to the Passion of God’s Earth, hopefully we will become more aware of the indwelling of God within Earth and its human community. We will realize that Earth is sacred ground and a holy place. We will realize that healing the wounds of Earth is a sacred and holy work.
If we respond to this calling, we will be able to contribute to the emergence of a future planetary Easter out of the present-day planetary Good Friday.
This is the Great Work of our generations at the beginning of this 21st century!