The inspiring priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus himself “that they may be one,” (Jn 17:21) must also compel us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, as we pray that all believers may be more and more united in one mind and one judgment.
Then, like a rainbow of love, peace and unity, we may convince the world of the truth and excellence of our Christian religion, and find closer communion with God and all the saints.
I cannot comprehend a rainbow in a single colour. It needs to be a combination of colours to be visible and beautiful. In life, we also need each other to form a community: a community that is a vibrant, cohesive, empowered, believing community, working together with Jesus Christ himself in caring for our common home, the planet earth, and all creation, (St. Anthony of Padua of Atiu Parish Vision statement).
Today, “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle.” (Care for Our Common Home (LS #206).
In the context of Pacific life situation, global warming is most felt and experienced in different circumstance by most island people. The phenomenon of longer drought, the eroding of coastal lands in some islands in the region, means that these people are bracing themselves against destruction.
Unpredictable weather conditions such as strong winds and cyclones threaten most of the small islands in the Pacific region. We can also read and hear about what is happening in big countries and on the mainland of Europe and the Americas: frequent bush fires and earthquakes. There are also deadly hurricanes and flooding, resulting in the killing of thousands of people and the loss of properties.
Some might say that the end of the world is coming soon, or that the wrath of God is punishing the madness of humanity. However, we who are Christians believe in a God whose mercy and love extends to all and has no boundaries. So we kneel and pray together, asking God’s benevolent protection and guidance for us to counter climate change - not according to our own way, but God’s. As we pray together, we also need to act together according to God’s enlightenment given to us through the Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit of God hovered over the waters,” ever since the beginning of the creation of the world. (Gen 1:2). Thus, guided by the Holy Spirit and acting together as a community we have a way of being saved from these threatening phenomena in our times.
The kind of community whose vision is mentioned above is necessary in our prayer and in our working together. As we profess our faith and love for God and for each other, we need to be united as communities of Christians and let Christ transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit the way he wants us to act, for example in our care for each other and for our common home, the planet Earth. Our gratitude must also go to the people and agencies who advocate awareness of climate change, and whose energy and concerted efforts to disseminate proper information for people, give an opportunity for them to change their lifestyles to be transformed.
A rainbow is formed through the amount of water vapours and sunlight that meet together. In life also, to form a vibrant, cohesive community we need the empowerment of God through the Holy Spirit. In order for us to hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit in our midst, and to enable us to discern God’s ways, we need to silence our minds and hearts from earthly concerns.
Pope Francis said; “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” (LS #202)
In our context therefore, communal discernment is necessary for a community to be able to understand and to have appropriate responses to the life challenges we are facing today.
This communal discernment necessitates individual or personal transformation. In religious terms it is tatara’ara, or repentance and in Greek the word is Metanoia or conversion. It means “emptying” or change of mind and heart. Individually, we need to empty or change our mind and heart, change of mentality, or perspectives, before we can sit together humbly and discern communally in order to attain a certain level of commitment to bring about the change required for the betterment of our people and the world at large.
The challenge is for us to respond to the needs of our world as citizens of the earth and as Christian people destined to be united as one in God’s Kingdom.
As we trust in God’s providence and goodness, Let us care and maintain the beauty and the tranquility of our islands by as the slogan goes, “thinking globally and acting locally.”
Let us act and carry out our moral responsibility to be saved in the here and now of our existence and uphold the bright future of the generations to come.
Kia matutu e kia maroiroi tatou te au taeake e.
Fr. Faustino Galo, MSP
Catholic Church, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Atiu