The Earth Is a Precious Gift of God

Thursday July 25 | Taizé, Church of Réconciliation

This evening I would like to greet particularly those of us who come from two countries well represented this week in Taizé: Lebanon, where we had had a beautiful stage of the pilgrimage of trust at the end of March, and Hong Kong, with which many links of friendship unite us.

As you probably know, if we can welcome so many of you in Taizé, it is thanks to the presence of all the volunteers, whom I wish to thank wholeheartedly for their presence throughout this summer.

These young people are here to participate in the welcome and to help out, but this time of volunteering is also an opportunity to think about their faith and to look for meaning in their lives.

And for us brothers, one of the most beautiful missions in the steps of Jesus is to listen to and accompany those who come to us. Through this listening, we are also made attentive to the great intuitions of your generation.

Among these signs of the times to which you young people make us attentive, there is one that particularly challenges me. This is the commitment of many young people to safeguard Creation, for ecology and sustainable development.

We are witnessing the emergence of many initiatives, at the grassroots level, which allow some people to make very concrete commitments. And these initiatives seem to me more and more to have an impact at the political level.

In many of you, I see a real sense of urgency in the face of the enormous challenges posed by climate change. Our earth is very tired and its resources are over-exploited.

Faced with these huge challenges, many may be seized by discouragement or fear of the future. While the spirit of wonder should always be kept alive in front of the beauty we encounter in creation, often this look of admiration is veiled by these threats to the future of our wonderful planet.

When we open the Bible to its first pages, we see that concern for the environment is inseparable from trust in God. In the two poetic stories found at the beginning of the book of Genesis, we see how God is at work in creation.

The first story impressively describes the diversity of living things: grass and fruit trees, fish in the sea, birds in the sky and all the animals that move on the earth.... We can also read this story as a very strong call to take care of this great biodiversity that is threatened today.

The second story, in the next chapter, includes an essential idea, expressed as follows: “The Lord God took the human being and set him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Yes, in this creative work of God, humans are given a special responsibility: cultivating and preserving.

One of our deep desires is that we may all be collectively more aware of this responsibility to face the harmful causes of the climate change brought about by human activity. As believers, let us not forget that this earth is a very precious gift from God, to protect and transmit to the next generation.

We will soon have the opportunity to talk about this again, at the end of the summer, during our week of reflection for 18 to 35 year-olds, which will include a special programme on environmental issues. From August 25 to September 1, about thirty speakers from different backgrounds will share their experiences.

Now I would like to give the floor for a few moments to one of our volunteers; they have been reflecting for several months on these ecological issues in Taizé. Let us listen to Esther speak about this thinking.

his February, together with other volunteers, we prepared a game young people could play to think and to speak about sustainability and current very urgent environmental issues. As we spoke to the other volunteers and to different brothers of the community about ecology, we figured out that there is actually great richness in this exchange.

So we decided in March to start to meet for weekly workshops, which are open to everyone. The conversations became incredibly diverse as activists, scientists and people of all ages shared their statements.

This time of sharing truly encourages me. And for me this is Jesus in our midst who creates new life in us as we come together to speak, as we cry out when we don’t see hope and as we encourage one another to go on step by step to take care of his creation.

In the workshop, I ask at the end if there’s something people want to stop doing or start doing or continue doing, and the people share concrete steps they will take. At these moments I get new hope. The whole exchange has already led several people to take steps towards being more and more caretakers of God’s creation and this truly encourages me not to get frustrated but to take some steps myself.

Through Esther, Bradon and Stefan, we thank all the volunteers for their involvement this summer in Taizé.


Last updated: 3 August 2019


[1Photo: Cédric Nisi