This quote from the prayer which Pope Francis offered at the end of the encyclical Laudato Si
echoes the call of God from the burning bush to Moses in this Sunday’s first reading
. “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering.” (Ex. 3:8) Just as God knew well the suffering of the Israelites in Egypt, God knows well the suffering of the poor and of the earth today. Throughout the encyclical Pope Francis associates how we treat our most vulnerable brothers and sisters with how we care for all of God’s creation. Moreover, the Pope makes the point that it is people who are economically poor and who depend on the land for existence that are suffering the most devastating effects of climate change. Just as God called Moses to action and worked through Moses to free the oppressed of his time, God calls us to action and wishes to work through us to free the poor and the earth from oppression. As the psalmist asserts, “The LORD secures justice and the rights of all the oppressed.” (Ps. 103:6)
The parable of the fig tree in today’s Gospel offers us hope. Referring to the fig tree which has not borne fruit for three years, the gardener promises to “cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; (so) it may bear fruit in the future.” (Lk. 13:8) In Laudato Si Pope Francis calls us to live with the hope of the gardener and allow God “to seize us with his power and light and help us protect all life for a better future.” Perhaps we may consider Laudato Si the burning bush for the 21st century and a reminder that we live on holy ground. God is summoning us and cautioning “I know well what they are suffering” as the poor and the earth cry out.
Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member