To recognise and notice the beauty of nature is to experience the goodness and the generosity of God. In nature, we celebrate the power and love of God. God gave the gift of life to all he created. God made humankind in his image and likeness but ‘that should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose.’ Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’ that ‘soil, water, mountains; everything is, as it were is a caress of God.’ (LS no. 84). Through the centuries, Church leaders and saints namely, the Canadian bishops, St John Paul II, the Japanese bishops, St Thomas Aquinas, St Brigid, St Catherine of Siena, St Francis of Assisi, the mystics and others praised the beauty of creation.
Today, many people praise the beauty of the natural world and want to maintain its beauty while others are reckless about the environment making it into a throwaway culture; dumping, polluting and disturbing the climatic system with devastating effects. During the Lenten season, we read the stories of Ajuk and Awut to understand what happens such peoples’ lives when human beings live selfishly and indiscriminately. We also see what happens when people show compassion and love. Greta Thunberg is an advocate for climate justice and protection of the planet.
The Church celebrates the memorial of St David today. He is the patron saint of Wales where he lived as abbot and bishop in the sixth century. Many of the pupils David taught in Ireland became saints. He influenced monastic development here and he died around 601.
The Word proclaimed today at Mass comes from the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:4-10). Daniel sees the beauty and generous love of God. Daniel praises God for keeping the covenant he made with humankind and praises God’s kindness for those who love God and keep the commandments. He contrasts that with the wickedness and betrayal of others. Daniel takes on himself the community aspect of sin, which is why some members of the community bear the look of shame. However, Daniel recognises to God alone belong ‘mercy and pardon.’ God wants to forgive everyone. God calls Christians to take on the guilt and shame of the sin of the world. God’s people drifted from God’s call to love. During Lent God seeks our repentance. Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. He took on our guilt and shame. He is our Redeemer.
Psalm78 with its response from Psalm 102:10, proclaims the psalmist asking on the people’s behalf, ‘Do not treat us according to our sins, O Lord.’ The psalmist asks for compassion and forgiveness and promises to ‘give thanks to God forever and ever.’
Compassion is the key word proclaimed in the Gospel (Lk 6:36-38). Jesus asked the disciples to ‘be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.’ Jesus loves unconditionally and shows compassion always. We readily see this in the story of the Good Shepherd and in the miracles he worked- the feeding of the multitudes, the healing of people who were blind, deaf and lame and the people whose sins he forgave. Jesus also teaches the disciples not to judge or condemn others but to forgive and be generous. Jesus taught by words and example. The Holy Spirit teaches disciples to follow Jesus’ way of love.
God’s people learn lessons from the readings today about love and respect, about playing their part in accepting the sin and shame of the world, about keeping the commandments and about repentance.
These themes of love and respect for God and his creation and the mission of discipleship are woven through the Grow in Love /I nGrá Dé Religious Education programme for Catholic primary schools. VERITAS publications gives free access to the online resources including the Children’s Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book to support the themes and lessons.
- Read Psalm 148 from your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book or your Bible and think about how every created thing can give praise and thanks to God
- Read the story of David and Goliath from your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book or from your Bible
- From your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book, read Mary’s prayer of thanks to God in her Magnificat
- Read the story of the family on the Trócaire box. If you haven’t got a trócaire box you can collect one in the Church
REFLECT AND PRAY
- What is similar between your family life and Ajax and Awut’s family life?
- How might all citizens help Trócaire in its work?
- What is your favourite prayer?
- Invite your family to pray the Our Father/An Phaidir
- St David, pray for us.
- Find the country of Sudan in the continent of Africa. Do you recognise any other countries in Africa? Do you know anyone who has relatives living in Africa?
- Find yourself doing one compassionate act today. Compassion is more than kindness. A person is compassionate when he/she feels in their heart the sadness and pain of people and then reaches out to help them
- Find out about Greta Thunberg’s work for climate change and climate justice in your Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé e-book
Sr Anne Neylon