Greetings, SBT Readers!
The Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency can only be described as a strike against life itself. This legislation will limit the EPA's ability to limit the carbon dioxide and methane gas emissions responsible for global warming and, by extension, climate change.
This disregard for all life forms on our planet is a spiritual issue. As Pope Francis declared in his encyclical, Laudato Si',
"Mother Earth ... now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters" (2).
In effect, every form of life is threatened by global warming. Heat waves are afflicting nations across the globe, making some areas virtually uninhabitable and drying up water sources such as Lake Mead, the largest artificial reservoir in the U.S. serving 25 million people in Arizona, California, Nevada and parts of Mexico. When rivers and lakes dry up and when sea levels rise because of melting ice caps and glaciers, then disasters ensue: disruptions to agriculture and the fishing industry, migration of peoples, the loss of coastal lands, wars over water rights, the extinction of species, the end of tourism, the loss of livelihood, global famine, etc.
The Right to Life is not a single issue but is multi-faceted. No one can claim to be "Pro Life" if they are not, at the same time, "Pro Planet" -- that is, that they support every life form, including all creatures, the air we breathe, and the earth and water that sustain us.
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent in pairs ahead of him
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He told them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
At various times of day, Ed sits on a bench in Cottontail Park along with his lap dog, a delightful cross breed of poodle and perhaps shih tzu. The first time I talked to him was when he called out as I was passing by to ask if I could hear the birds sing. Lost in thought, I stopped in my tracks and listened -- and, yes, the most mellifluous birdsong was emanating from the trees behind him. I had been too preoccupied to hear it! After that introduction, our conversations became more frequent. I observed that he smiled at everyone and that "his bench" was a popular stopping point for everyone in the park. Yesterday, he shared his secret with me:
"I sit here thanking God for everything I have," he said. "And I pray for everyone who is hurting in the world. I wish I could do something to stop all this violence but I'm 77 years old and can't do much."
"But you do!" I objected. "You're a contemplative and prayer matters! You're saving the world with each prayer and each time someone stops to talk to you!"
Yes, I do believe that Ed saves the world as he sits on his park prayer bench. The newly-appointed disciples in today's gospel go out two by two, but Ed stays put, with his dog and waits for people to come to him. The disciples have a message to proclaim; Ed embodies that message. Like the disciples, he gives the gift of peace but through his presence rather than through anything he says. The disciples cast out demons, but Ed heals by listening, by sharing birdsong, by interacting with other dog owners, or with seniors taking a stroll, or with new parents and their little ones...
There are different forms of discipleship. In Luke 10, Jesus officially "commissions" 72 of his followers to be evangelizers and healers. Many of us have received a similar "commissioning," along with intensive training and a "job description." But God is not limited when it comes to raising up "laborers" to help bring in the abundant harvest. Anyone, from any walk of life, can be "God's laborer" in any situation. Some of these laborers are more visibly active and yield more visible results -- clergy, for example, or chaplains, catechists, liturgical ministers, teachers... Then there are those who bring in the harvest simply by being themselves!