Naming and Circ.:
New Year’s Day:
Num 6, 22-27
Ecc 3, 1-13
Gal 4, 4-7 / Phil 2, 5-11
Rev 21, 1-6a
Luke 2, 15-21
Mt 25, 31-46
by the Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Athenagoras Fasiolo
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Written for the First Ecumenical Prayer Meeting for Creation in August 2019 in Assisi. Meeting in the Room of St Francis’ Renunciation – where we recall how Francis himself stripped himself of everything in total surrender to God (radical discipleship). Jesus in this passage from Paul’s letter to the Philippians also surrendered everything to God so as to be obedient to God’s will.
In the above context, it is indispensable not just to examine the situation of creation from a scientific point of view, and to identify remedies, but it is also necessary to wonder whether the whole of humanity is capable of not being considered as something to be exploited before the beauty of the creation, but whether it is capable of humbling itself and becoming obedient before the destruction of all this wellbeing and uncontrolled consumerism. As the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church has declared: ‘it is an imperative obligation of the Church to contribute, through the spiritual means at its disposition, to protect the creation of God from the consequences of human greed’. It is necessary that there is a ‘reconciliation’ of the whole humanity everything, with every living being, with the elements, with the whole universe. Such a possible ‘humbling’ would enable each believer and each human being to be more capable of understanding his own neighbour, more capable of healing the wounds caused to the environment, but above all, more capable of leaving behind the egocentrism of contemporary society, which has placed him in the position of God. Mortification and reconciliation are typically spiritual issues which involve our innermost being and which which strip from us all our self centredness. Perceiving the importance, will enable us to glorify God, will enable us to bend our knees on heaven, on earth and everywhere to praise God in Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian believers have the obligation, before the world, to embrace this challenge in order to be advocates of a true ‘metanoia’ – repentance, of a radical change of mentality concerning the gifts of creation. Thus, to reconcile ourselves with the creation will mean asking for mercy from the water – for the excessive wastefulness and for the poisoning caused; from the earth for the abominable use that we have made of it through an economy of gain, forgetting that nature was created by God, and given to humankind ‘to work and preserve’. (Gen. 2.15); from the air and the climate, as pollution due to selfish wellbeing, has resulted many times in catastrophes, rebellion of the natural elements on which contemporary humankind would like to impose his own system of exploitation; from the whole cosmos, that is on the way to becoming the largest dumping field of this sick planet. But we must also ask mercy from every human being, for whom this human greed has become a source of great shortages, of social injustices, of biblical migrations and many other evils.
Therefore the Orthodox Church emphasises the protection of God’s creation through the cultivation of human responsibility for our God-given environment and the promotion of the virtues of simplicity and self-restraint. Then, we can proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, because then we will be stripped of ‘ourselves’ and we will be reconciled to him and to his creation, made for us.
Archimandrite Athenagoras Fasiolo