For the Feast of the Assumption, CAFOD’s Head of Theology, Linda Jones, reflects on how Mary can inspire us to become protectors of our common home.
‘Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world.’
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. ‘As she once cared for Jesus, so now she cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world,’ as Pope Francis writes in his encyclical, Laudato Si’. And, he goes on, ‘we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.’
What would our eyes of wisdom show us? What do we see when we look around? What are the signs of the times?
Over the last few weeks, we have seen video footage of wildfires in Turkey and Greece, and floods in Germany. People have lost their homes and livelihoods, and even their lives, to these extreme weather events. Vast areas of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed through illegal logging, fires and cattle ranching. A new international report has come out, highlighting once again the immediate and terrifying climate crisis. The world is certainly wounded. Our common home needs our care and attention.
Maybe some of us feel emboldened to take action because of the sense of urgency, but maybe some of us feel completely helpless in the face of the size of the crisis.
What can we possibly do that will make a difference?
Protecting the Amazon
In Brazil, people have been working for a long time to protect the rainforest. The rich ecosystem of the Amazon is home to over three million species and 25 per cent of modern medicines have been derived from the plants of our planet’s rainforests. Yet all of this is being destroyed at an alarming rate.
When Claudelice Silva dos Santos was a child the forest covered much more of the land, but illegal logging and deforestation for cattle ranching have destroyed vast areas. Claudelice’s brother, José Claudio, and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo were murdered after years of standing up for their rights and trying to protect the land from deforestation. Despite receiving death threats, Claudelice strives to continue her brother’s work.
“The Amazon is our life,”’ she says, “Jose Claudio and Maria were brave. I have to be brave. We keep their memory alive by fighting for the forest.”
Claudelice’s bravery is awe-inspiring. How can we too find the courage and motivation to care for our common home, when it feels like a very daunting task?
As we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, we could turn to Mary’s great hymn of praise, the Magnificat, for inspiration:
‘He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.’
Our faith in God, who created each and every one of us and loves us, leads us to realise that we can turn the world upside down. Status and wealth are meaningless, and our relationships with God, our neighbour and the earth itself are of the utmost importance.
What good is all the material wealth in the world, if we have no mighty forests and no clean water? What good is power and status, unless it is used to lift up those who have been crushed, and welcome those who have been excluded?
The time to change is now
The climate crisis is real, and it is urgent. The time to change is now.
Pope Francis, following on from the teaching of Saint Pope John Paul II, reminds us that we are called to an ‘ecological conversion’:
‘So, what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.’
On this Feast Day, we pray that we might be inspired into a new relationship with the world around us. May we become protectors of God’s handiwork, the beautiful and awe-inspiring world where we live, our common home.
We celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
‘Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.’ (Laudato Si’)
Hail Mary, full of grace…