Advocacy for the environment is an important part of taking care of God’s creation. But sometimes we can be self-righteous in calling out individuals and companies on environmental injustices they commit.
We often judge according to our own small-heartedness and according to our own or others’ petty standards. “Thank God I’m not like those awful polluters who own a car because it’s convenient,” I sometimes think while waiting for the bus. I feel schadenfreude when I see them sitting in their traffic jams, and congratulate myself for meticulously separating my trash into plastic, paper, metal, glass, while looking down on my neighbours who don’t.
This parable invites us to consider God’s standards. God, with great generosity, opens the Kingdom and forgiveness to everyone who asks. We create our own hell when we cling to our petty-minded attitudes, passing judgments on others. When we fail to take up God’s offer of forgiveness, and learn to forgive like God does, we continue living together in this hell.
- Where have I harshly judged others who are not “as fervent as I” in taking care of creation?
- How can I live God’s mercy, God’s openness to people’s mistakes as part of my calling to environmental conversion?
- How can my advocacy for the environment be respectful and loving as well as powerful and convincing?
Uta Sievers worked at the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Jesuits at their headquarters near the Vatican from 2006 to 2011. During this time, she helped publish several documents on ecology, some of which she hopes Pope Francis has read! Originally from Germany, she has spent the last 15 years living and working in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy.