St. Francis and Making Room for God #SeasonofCreation 2020
This Sunday marks the end of the Season of Creation. For the last month we have joined the worldwide Christian family for this celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. We have been offered a time to take stock of our relationship with God’s creation and our response to climate change. We are reminded that we are created in the image of God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all. This is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew’s Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus invites all his hearers into the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s reign of justice and peace. Following the tradition of Jubilee, Jesus offers a vision of a world where all flourish; where the common good, including the good of all created beings is held as paramount; a world where the needs of the poor are placed first; and where ALL, including all plants and animals - all creation, are treated with honour and respect and given they need to thrive.
This year our celebration is overshadowed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which like climate change, is a symptom of our forgetfulness. We have forgotten we are created in the image of the creating and sustaining God, and we have forgotten the vision offered by Jesus. Consequently, our relationship with creation is broken and all creation is paying the price. Jesus continues to invite us to be liberated from the old ways of seeing creation as resource and instead to live in ways that cares for our common home and the sisters and brothers who share it.
This week we celebrate St. Francis of Assisi. Francis saw his life as one of penance. In “The Art of Letting Go” Franciscan priest and writer Richard Rohr suggests Francis understood penance as “making room for God”. That is what the Season of Creation is about. Making room for God is the letting go of all that distracts us from seeing God in creation and all who share this world. And as Francis shows, the more we practice making room the more we see God. In the end Francis saw God at work in all people, even thieves, lepers and Muslims; all creatures, even a ferocious wolf; and all creation, including the birds who he commanded to “beware of the sin of ingratitude and be always eager to praise God”.
As we finish this season and given thanks for our pets and all creation, what might we need to let go of, and what might we need to pay attention to as we make room for God?