As someone who is especially passionate about environmental justice and climate change and how these issues affect the lives of the people who are most vulnerable, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the immense pressure of the time in which we live. The weight and complexity of this reality can easily leave us feeling paralyzed and tempted to ignore climate change in this moment when we need to take prophetic action.
It’s ironic that a focus on sustainability can leave us feeling so withered; however, in today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to turn towards love that will sustain us in our work for climate justice.
“Love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Our greatest commandment is not to single-handedly fix the climate or to completely eliminate carbon emissions but rather to love God and the people around us—to care for creation. A shift in focus to love and encounter will draw us into hopeful and creative ways of moving forward instead of being frozen by fear, our greatest temptation.
We find ourselves in the middle of Lent and in the midst of a climate crisis. Easter feels far away, and we don’t know how everything is going to turn out; however, Thomas Merton reminds us that, “Christian hope begins where every other hope stands frozen stiff before the face of The Unspeakable.” Our work, like Jesus’, begins where and when things seem most hopeless. This Lent we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, not to remain paralyzed by the brokenness of our world, but to do the work confident that God, who loves us, is co-laboring with us and will triumph over brokenness in the end.
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.