Catholics and Creation
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” – Genesis 2:15
Since the very beginning of time, God has intended for humans to be stewards of his majestic creation: the natural world. In a sense, he invites us to participate in creation by not only making good use of the land, seas, plants, and animals, but also by caring for them. This is why God instructed Adam to both till the earth (to cultivate it for the necessities of life) and keep it (to protect and care for it).
On a basic level, it makes sense that God wants us to care for his creation. No artist would want to see their artwork, something on which they have worked tirelessly, meticulously, and wholly uniquely, be abused or destroyed by someone else. How much more must this be true for the Divine Artist in his creation of something so unfathomably wondrous as the earth?
Scripture reaffirms the importance of God’s creation. His very creation praises and serves him. As the Psalms say:
“The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1-2
“You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.” –Psalm 104:2-4
Just as God delights in us, his beloved children, he also delights in his creation. When we honor his creation and treat it as God desires, we honor him.
Sadly, as many of us are aware, we face an unprecedented crisis today in our environment because we have not been proper stewards of the earth. By our wastefulness and our failure to work together globally to reach agreements, we have put God’s creation at great risk. Worse, the effects of these errors tend to have the biggest impact not on the culprits, but on the most vulnerable—people who are experiencing poverty, and generations who have not yet been born.
The good news is that we have a loving, merciful God. We can all make changes on an individual level to care for our common home. Little sacrifices add up, and God sees our efforts. On this Earth Day, I urge you to commit to one action that shows your care for God’s creation. You could turn off an extra light, carpool to work or school, start a recycling program at your workplace—the possibilities are endless.
For more ideas and to learn more about Catholic teachings on the environment, I encourage you to read Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, or to get involved with the Catholic Climate Covenant.