Today’s first reading takes place after the destructive waters of the flood have subsided. We hear God saying this to those who found salvation on the ark: “I am now establishing my covenant with you [Noah] and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you” (Genesis 9: 9-10). God establishes many covenants throughout scripture and all of them have two things in common: God makes a promise, and brings those within the covenant closer to God. In today’s reading, we see God’s desire to be closer to Noah and his descendants (which are all of us) and to all creation.
Sometimes we forget that humans are not alone on this planet. We share it with hundreds of millions of other plants and animals, each of them created by God. Scripture speaks often of God’s love for creation. The Psalms remind us that God “know[s] every bird in the heights” (Psalm 50: 11) and that God “is good to all, compassionate toward all [God’s] works” (Psalm 145: 9).
God wants to be close to all creation, and has made clear by the covenant with Noah, wants humans to be close to all creatures too. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus doing just that: “The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him” (Mark 1: 13). As Jesus begins preparing for his Earthly ministry, the Gospel tells us that he wasn’t alone. God’s creatures accompanied him. Even as Jesus was being tempted by the Devil, God’s creatures stayed by his side.
Extractives industries take a huge toll on creation’s wellbeing, leading to contamination and hurting ecosystems and the creatures that live there. As one example, the BP oil spill of 2010, and the chemicals used in the cleanup process, caused severe animal mutation. Scientists and fishermen (who depend on their catch for their livelihood) discovered shrimp born without eyes or eye sockets, fish with lesions and oozing sores, and crabs born without claws. Those chemicals also killed marine plant-life and accelerated beach erosion.
The Catechism teaches us that “each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own ways a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. [Humankind] must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things.”
Intimating Jesus in the desert, St. Francis of Assisi understood that he was related to all creatures. His “response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection.”
As we reflect on today’s readings and our own lives, how might we better honor the covenant made between God, humans, and the whole of creation?
For your convenience, you may choose to download a print "Worship Aid." This aid is a compilation of the weekly scripture reflections found in the calendar. By providing these reflections in a booklet format, we hope to enrich your weekly worship experience. You can download the PDF here.
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