]It’s often said that there are only two things in this life that you can rely on – death and taxes. This week we’ve heard a fair bit about the second, not much about the first. Much tax talk has been raised across Europe with the introduction of further austerity measures and closer to home it’s been all about the tax on carbon. Today’s homily however Is not about such taxes, nor is a political statement about climate change, but it’s hard not notice in the three readings we have just heard the environmental emphasis on rain, snow, seeds, sowers, fertile soil and a labouring creation giving birth to the fruits of the Spirit. All provide rich ground for us to reflect on the importance of our earth’s ecology.
In recent years the Church has regularly reminded us that the issue of caring for the environment is an important part of our Christian commitment for justice. We have been reminded that while the earth has been entrusted to us as stewards, to be preserved, it is also given into our hands to be developed in such a way that there will be a productive earth for future generations to inherit.
If this means we must limit our consumption, change our priorities in regard to energy and trade and show the third world the way in developing eco-friendly industries, then all the better for us. Most of us know that we cannot keep going as we are, with ever increasing unsustainable demands on our planet. There is no point any of us crying over the demise of our environment in the future, if we are doing nothing to help it now.
Every small thing we do from being conscious of the issues, to recycling and using our cars less, is not unimportant. Some of us are in positions to do a lot more than these things as well and we should take our Christian responsibilities in this regard very seriously.
One creative reading of today's Gospel is that it parallels how we can respond to the news of the degradation of the environment.
For some of us the facts and figures about the planet's ecosystem fall on rocky ground. We are not receptive to hearing anything that might demand a change in our lifestyle or a lessening of our comfort.
For others of us, recent debates fall among the thorns. Competing with other issues for our attention and action, the plight of the earth is not able to take root in our consciousness or sympathies. We think it can all wait for another generation who will have the ability to fix the problems then.
For some of us, however, recent surveys and our own sense of environmental changes means that what experts are saying falls on fertile soil. We want to do whatever we can to see that the earth continues to bear fruit for as many generations as God intends.
The Old and New Testaments are filled with the importance of our relationships to the earth. In the book of Genesis humanity is told to care for and subdue the earth, not wreck it. We cannot be irresponsible about the world's finite resources in the hope that we will find solutions in the future. Avarice is not one of the seven deadly sins for nothing.
We believe the bread and wine of the Eucharist, which we say are ‘the fruit of the earth and the work of human hands, are changed into Christ present among us. May these Eucharistic gifts rooted in our soil, effect in us a change that might enable us to have ears to hear the groan of creation as it calls for us to be careful sowers and responsible reapers.