Season of Creation ~ Jubilee for the Earth
A Message From His Holiness Pope Francis for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
“You shall thus hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim a release throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.” Lev 25:10
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very pleased that the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the 2020 Season of Creation is Jubilee for the Earth, precisely in this year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day. In the Holy Scriptures, a Jubilee is a sacred time to remember, return, rest, restore, and rejoice.
1. A Time to Remember: A Jubilee is indeed a time of grace to remember creation’s original vocation to exist and flourish as a community of love. We exist only in relationships: with God the Creator, with our brothers and sisters as members of a common family, and with all of God’s creatures within our common home.
2. A Time to Return: A Jubilee is a time to turn back in repentance. We have broken the bonds of our relationship with the Creator, with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of creation. We need to heal the damaged relationships that are essential to supporting us and the entire fabric of life….Pope Benedict observed [that], “the brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property.” Source: Meeting with Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, 6 August 2008
Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our rightful place in the natural created order – to remember that we are part of this interconnected web of life, not its masters. The disintegration of biodiversity, spiraling climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wake-up call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption.
3. A Time to Rest: In his wisdom, God set aside the Sabbath so that the land and its inhabitants could rest and be renewed. These days, however, our way of life is pushing the planet beyond its limits. Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world. Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify and storms intensify. Creation is groaning!…During the Jubilee, God’s people were invited to rest from their usual labour and to let the land heal and the earth repair itself, as individuals consumed less than usual.
4. A Time to Restore: A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human relationships. It invites us to re-establish equitable societal relationships, restoring their freedom and goods to all and forgiving one another’s debts… It is a time for restorative justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they face as a result of Covid-19.
We also need to restore the land. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time. … We must restore with justice in mind, ensuring that those who have lived on the land for generations can regain control over its usage.
5. A Time to Rejoice: In the biblical tradition, a Jubilee was a joyous occasion, inaugurated by a trumpet blast resounding throughout the land. We are aware that the cries of the earth and of the poor have become even louder and more painful in recent years. At the same time, we also witness how the Holy Spirit is inspiring individuals and communities around the world to come together to rebuild our common home and defend the most vulnerable in our midst. … We rejoice too that faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.