On the first two Sundays in July we have heard stories about prophets:
Ezekiel was sent by God to the Israelites who had rebelled against Him; Amos was plucked from his flock in Judah to be a prophet to the people of Israel.
In the Gospels we saw Jesus not honored in his own land; and when he sent out his disciples, two by two, with nothing but a walking stick, he warned them that some would not heed them, and advised them to “shake the dust off your feet” as a testimony to their lack of faith.
In my bible study group we discussed how, perhaps contrary to our previous notions, prophets are not “fortune tellers of the future” but rather, “describers of the present.” Prophets tell it like it is, NOW, but we’ve seen that, throughout history and the scriptures, that present reality is not often accepted and believed: We may shake our heads at the repeated infidelity of the Israelites, not only in their desert wandering with Moses, but even in Nazareth, but are we any better?
Citing the words of scientists and their climate studies, both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have been prophetic voices: Pope Benedict in 2010 calling the fight against climate change a “moral obligation”, Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si. This is no prediction of what may happen in our near or distant future; this is a description of what is true NOW. Do we heed the environmental dangers in our own day, in our own backyard:
● The growing number of record-breaking excessive heat waves?
● The drying of our land by continuing droughts?
● The wildfires that begin their season earlier and burn more uncontrollably every year?
Some have answered the call for divestment from polluting sources of energy, for re-use and recycling of materials, for preservation and restoration of forests and wetlands, but many continue to deny human activity as the catalyst for this current crisis, or claim it is “too expensive” and “too inconvenient” to institute necessary changes. Some may even claim that our own personal responses are too minor to make a difference. But the prophets and apostles of old have shown us how small, personal conversions and changes can create mighty movements, a renewed fidelity to God and His command that we be stewards to his creation and all people.
The question for us now is, are our ears open to the message? Are our minds and hearts and hands open to the work that we must do to reverse the effects of climate change?
EARTH JUSTICE https://earthjustice.org/climate/zero-to-100 is an organization that rises to the challenge “because the Earth needs a good lawyer.” See how they are promoting clean energy, restoration of forests and wetlands, clean-up of environmental toxins, elimination of wasteful land use in favor of sustainable agriculture. And see how you can help by responding to the voices of the prophets.
Mary McCarty is a native of Southern California and has managed the bookstore at the Jesuit Retreat Center for over 4 years.