“Ask and it will be given to you;
Seek and you will find;
Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
When we look around, we can see that something is wrong, whether it is the fires in the Amazon, Australia, or the U.S. west coast, more extreme weather, and hurricanes, or increasing droughts and floods. Creation is speaking to us and we hear the “cry of the earth and the poor.”
One of the places where we most vividly see the beauty and hear the suffering of creation is in the lush, awe-inspiring diversity of the Amazon region and the clamor of indigenous and Amazonian peoples whose home and livelihood are endangered by an extractivist model that contaminates their water, displaces them from their lands, and is causing climate change.
It can be easy to despair, especially when governments, including our own, are moving too slowly or taking steps backward, rather than adopting policies to protect people and the environment.
But there are also signs of hope. I see signs of hope in young leaders, like Greta Thunberg, who are creating a movement to defend our earth and our climate. I am inspired by young indigenous Lakota women from Red Cloud School who shared with their Congressional representatives and with students at ISN’s Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice why their language, cultural practices, land, and water are sacred and why we must move away from fossil fuels and toward a sustainable future.
I am inspired by Pope Francis who in his encyclical Laudato Si’ and Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia, invites all people to an interior conversion and to envision a new path forward, a new way of living in harmony with the natural world and one another.
Matthew’s gospel reminds us that if we ask, seek, and knock “the door will be opened” to us.
This season, I invite you to reflect on the Synod on the Amazon’s* call for integral ecology and conversion. Listen to the stories of how communities impacted by the extractivist economy in the Amazon and beyond find hope in the synod and the many ways that the call to forge “new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology” can be lived out.
*Watch for a reflection guide to be released later in Lent, created by the Interreligious Working Group on Extractive Industries, sharing the voices of indigenous, lay, and church leaders who participated in the Synod both inside and outside the halls of the Vatican.
Cecilia Calvo is the senior advisor on environmental justice of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States’ Office of Justice and Ecology. Calvo is an expert on environmental issues, including climate change, children’s health, and natural resource policy, and has worked domestically and internationally to help respond to these challenges. Previously, Calvo worked at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, coordinating the environmental justice program.