Receptiveness and responsiveness to God’s call always works for ecological civilization. There is no requirement that one think about this inclusive goal. But God has called some to think about the inclusive goal and offer that understanding to others…Others are called to give a cup of cold water to a thirsty stranger. Others are called to tell a joke. Others are called to express their love in a sexual embrace. Others are called to strive even harder in a race. Let us respect and love one another and put our hope in God’s weaving out of our small contributions a habitable planet, sensible ideas, and a humane society.
According to all three synoptic gospels, Jesus’ message of salvation was about the “basileia theou.” For Jesus, the good news was that the basileia theou was at hand. So, the question about how Jesus understood “salvation” is more usefully formulated as: “What did he mean by the basileia theou?” What content did that phrase have for him? Yes, it included personal transformation and healing and forgiveness. But these were aspects of something more inclusive.
“Laudato Si” deals at once with the problems of the ocean, the land, and the atmosphere, and, also, of human society. Francis’ encyclical is at once Roman Catholic teaching, general Christian teaching, and universal human teaching. If humanity would orient its education and research, its economics and its politics, its agriculture, and its human culture, by the wisdom of this encyclical, hope for the future could be greatly expanded...I have been struck not only by the remarkable connection between this pope and Francis of Assissi, but also by the parallels with Jesus of Nazareth.
As a nonagenarian, I am constantly asking myself what activities to continue and which to end. I have been attracted to the idea of ending one facet of my career, writing books, with one that put Jesus at the center. I wrote about Jesus’ thought of God as Abba. It was a kind of back-to-Jesus appeal that felt OK as a way to conclude my work as a Christian theologian. I think my spiritual life began with a “Papa (Abba) in Heaven” who, like my Papa (and my Mother) on Earth, loved me unconditionally. The difference was that my Papa in Heaven knew me totally, and still accepted me. From my parents I could hide quite a lot. Not from God. My theology has not changed much.
Jesus’ mission was to save his people from the Roman yoke. Most of those who shared that mission turned to military means, which Jesus saw to be self-destructive. So, the mission to save his people included saving them from their own proclivity to violence.
Saving his people from Rome and from themselves was the most inclusive mission possible at that time. To follow Jesus today is to adopt the most inclusive mission in our day. That is to save the world from the self-destruction on which it now seems bent. Some of those who claim to share this goal offer programs that will speed the self-destruction. We need to save the people of the world from themselves as well as from the consequences of our multi-century crimes and mistakes.
Jesus’ method is more promising. To me the call to Jesus’ disciples to save the world seems clear and simple. We need to stop serving wealth. We need to love our enemies.