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Season of Creation reflection: Fr Xavier Jeyaraj

“If nature survives, adivasis will survive and if adivasis survive, nature will survive.”

– Dayamani Barla, an indigenous woman environment activist in India

Any indigenous person / community anywhere in the world might say the same. ‘Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms and new hope’ is the theme for this year’s season of creation. It invites us to renew our relationship with the Creator and the creation through 3 Cs: Celebration, Conversion and Commitment.

Celebration: The mere thought of celebrating life and creation takes me back to my celebrations of Pachamama day with the indigenous in Bolivia and the Karam festival with adivasis in Central India. In both these places, they celebrate their inseparable relationship with nature and with God. Their life is intimately connected to land, water and forest. An indigenous elder in Ecuador says, “The big trees are my grandparents. They speak to me. I feel very sad when I think about what will happen in a long time. The world is changing. Our goal is to protect this area and our culture so it will be alive for many years.”

Conversion: The pandemic has amply revealed that we have pushed the planet to its limit and she cannot take it anymore. Our never-ending desire for ‘more’ and exploitation of creation and unethical production and consumption have exhausted the planet. Our land, water, forest and oceans are distressingly struggling to be renewed. I contemplate myself standing before the earth and the entire creation, just like the prodigal son in front of his Father. I confess, “Mother Earth, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your child.” As a repentant child, may we be ready to become a servant, who will replenish and re-create the broken earth and its creation.

Commitment: This will happen only if we do the first two at individual, institutional and structural levels. Today, the earth is legitimately seeking Sabbath from every form of abuse and destruction. How can we, our families and communities follow the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle? Like St. Ignatius, can we ask ourselves, “What have I done for creation? What am I doing for creation? And what ought I to do for creation?” (SE § 53)

We join Pope Francis in saying the prayer for creation (LS § 246)

Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome. Originally from the Calcutta Province, India, he has spent much of his life dedicated to working for the poor. He led Udayani Social Action Forum, a social centre in Calcutta before working as secretary of social action in the South Asian Conference.