Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
For thus says the LORD,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not creating it to be a waste,
but designing it be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
This reading from the Prophet Isaiah certainly anticipates and provides an accurate summation of the recent encyclical on the environment. Of course, even a cursory reading of the encyclical will reveal that it is not actually about the environment. The encyclical is about God, God’s plan for the human community and the resources given by God to humanity so that humanity may more successfully attain the end for which it was created. It would be a serious mistake, after reading Laudati Si’, to see the material world as now suddenly divinized, or somehow the direct object of Christ’s redemptive work. Christ died for humanity, not for a tomato plant. It would also be a mistake to regard creation as a superfluous, a bothersome appendage that can be ignored or abused. The divine plan is a mystery that unfolds throughout our lives and the fullness of that plan is only revealed at the beatific vision. We may safely presume that within the mystery of that divine plan, “the designer and maker of the earth,” established tomato plants, all other plants, and the whole world itself as a means by which we may move towards our salvation.
In this regard, the environment is nothing more or less than a gift given by God that the entire human community may use to help them move towards that same loving God. It may be safe to say that God may justly judge us on how we used this gift and how well we preserved this gift for others.