June 15, 2012

Man and the Gift of Creation

At the end of his section on The Word of God and Commitment in the World, the Holy Father treats briefly the protection of creation. Engagement with the world is "demanded by God's word". How, then, are we to engage with the rest of the created world (the non-humans)?

"As men and women who believe in and proclaim the Gospel, we have a responsibility towards creation." Note that Pope Benedict says that we have a responsibility. We do not own it, to do with as we please, nor are we beneath it, just children of Mother Earth.  He continues: "Revelation... leads us to denounce that mistaken attitude which refuses to view all created realities as a reflection of their Creator, but instead as mere raw material, to be exploited without scruple."

What is the cure for the exploiting of nature? Humility:
"Man thus lacks that essential humility which would enable him to see creation as a gift from God..." Note, again, that this is not humility because we are so little compared to the earth but because we are recipients of a great gift from God. The gift has not come from the earth. The gift is the earth.

Consider a father giving a functional yet extravagant gift to his child - perhaps a brand new car. That father would be disappointed if the car was kept in the garage and never driven.* He would be disappointed, too, if the car was run into the ground

The car is meant to be both used and cared for.

The earth, likewise, is meant to be used and meant to be cared for. We are the recipients of a great gift that neither should be thoughtlessly destroyed nor kept untouched at all costs. 

We use the gift and we care for the gift, both because we love the gift-giver.

* Fathers of teenage daughters possibly excepted.

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