Our New Parking Lot and Caring for Our Common Home
Rev. Kevin Clinton, Pastor
Saint Wenceslaus Church, New Prague, Minnesota
Our new parking lot is part of our liturgy. It is part of what we do when we gather here for Mass. The first half of our Mass asks us to hear God speak to us thru the inspired scriptures being proclaimed. The second half of the Mass is the ritual given to us by Jesus in which he unites himself with us disciples by our bodies uniting with his body and Blood. The Mass is a tangible nurturing and affirmation of our being with Christ and in Christ!
But our parking lot can help us receive a third way God reveals God’s presence to us. It is in creation. The natural world is a “sacrament” revealing the existence of God and the beauty of “the glory of God”. As the song sings: “The heavens are telling the glory of God and all creation is shouting for joy.” Our parking lot is a wonderful gift for the enrichment of our faith and can be a powerful sign to all in the New Prague area!
Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’ (Caring for our Common Home), affirms the fact that we are made from the dust of the earth. We are earthlings! We are creatures living with other living creatures on this planet. Pope Francis presents us with an urgent challenge to protect our common home… to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change for the good of all or for the bad of all!
With the many important issues that our faith asks us to address in our lives, this is one in the here and now that needs to be raised and is now on our Catholic agenda. The earth's resources that sustain the 7 billion of us living in the global village are gifts of God to be used for our lives to thrive and be sustained. But in our global village of 7 billion people, it is immoral for people to consume resources to the detriment of future generations or the detriment of the poor on our planet.
Of course, this is where the dialogue among the 7 billion of us can deteriorate into the “blame-game”. “It’s your fault—you change!” “No, it is YOUR fault. YOU change!” All of us have a part to lay in the care of our common home. Issues like “climate change”, “ecological degradation”, conservation of energy”, and the fair distribution of resources to address poverty are some of the most complex systems for science and people of good will to analyze and come up with solutions. But they are REAL and what you and I do individually must consider the impact our choices have on the natural world and the 7 billion brothers and sisters on this planet. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, along with his two papal predecessors, knew that this world-wide issue needed our attention and we as Catholics need to be part our global village finding solutions.
Of course as with many problem solving discussions there will be extreme positions taken. Open and respectful dialogue and careful understanding of the facts will help us arrive at improved ways of living that care for our common home. The encyclical Laudato si’ and our new parking lot ask us to pay attention to what is happening, inform ourselves and work with others to create real solutions and changes. Human beings, with God’s help, can generate creative solutions that will sustain the earth’s limited resources.
By creating our parking lot like we have, we affirm one of the three key ways God’s reveals God’s self to this worshiping community. Last fall, as many of you know, our old parking lot was disintegrating--it was coming apart! We then began a very large construction project. Today we have a parking lot that invites and teaches. We doubled the number of handicapped spaces. We made it safer for people who come to worship with us. We made it environmentally friendly and naturally beautiful. This parking lot serves the needs of our parish and also provides parking for the Mayo Clinic Health Systems Hospital.
[Gospel of the Day: Lazarus & the rich man]
(Luke 16: 19-31)] The gospel today presented us with Lazarus a beggar. He had no resources to care for his basic human needs. His life had gone to the dogs. The dogs had enough sense to do what they could to respond to his needs. Lazarus laid on the door-step of a rich man. The rich man probably had his door closed and perhaps was oblivious to what was just outside his door. The rich man had his resources which he used to care for his needs. There is nothing wrong with using resources at hand to care for needs--unless you ignore what is right outside your door. When Jesus told this parable 2,000 years ago, people probably imagined Lazarus and the rich man living in one of their villages--perhaps 100 to 200 people. Now in the 21st Century we see and feel a global village and a world-wide eco-system that is a global natural world. The doors of our individual homes need to open wide to see who we are and who and what is on our door-steps. Laudato si' asks us to put on our catholic glasses to see ourselves and other human beings in the global village and to see ourselves as living creatures of the earth among all of God's creatures. With God's help and our awakening to the needs of our world, we can positively address the challenges of our global village and the natural world of which we are a part. Caring for Our Common Home requires us to do that.