Laudato Si 71: God Offers Renewal

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Noah was just, and through the grace of God, was the cornerstone of a fresh start for humankind:

71. Although “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Gen 6:5) and the Lord “was sorry that he had made man on the earth” (Gen 6:6), nonetheless, through Noah, who remained innocent and just, God decided to open a path of salvation. In this way he gave humanity the chance of a new beginning. All it takes is one good person to restore hope!

Not only did the Pentateuch offer a Sabbath every seventh day, but God also provided for the renewal of sabbaticals and jubilees:

The biblical tradition clearly shows that this renewal entails recovering and respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator. We see this, for example, in the law of the Sabbath. On the seventh day, God rested from all his work. He commanded Israel to set aside each seventh day as a day of rest, a Sabbath, (cf. Gen 2:2-3; Ex 16:23; 20:10). Similarly, every seven years, a sabbatical year was set aside for Israel, a complete rest for the land (cf. Lev 25:1-4), when sowing was forbidden and one reaped only what was necessary to live on and to feed one’s household (cf. Lev 25:4-6). Finally, after seven weeks of years, which is to say forty-nine years, the Jubilee was celebrated as a year of general forgiveness and “liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants” (cf. Lev 25:10). This law came about as an attempt to ensure balance and fairness in their relationships with others and with the land on which they lived and worked.

I can only imagine if countries who styled themselves as loyal to the Judeo-Christian tradition were to adopt such measures in their working life. In addition, those who emptied their lands of produce were considered lawbreakers:

At the same time, it was an acknowledgment that the gift of the earth with its fruits belongs to everyone. Those who tilled and kept the land were obliged to share its fruits, especially with the poor, with widows, orphans and foreigners in their midst: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after the harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner” (Lev 19:9-10).

It would be interesting to see how many supporters of the Ten Commandments were likewise supportive of these cultural efforts to provide for the needy. I think especially of those who criticize the socialist instincts of modern society by suggesting that somehow, the poor had it better when relying on the random generosity of churches and other givers, rather than on law and culture.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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