Advent is a time of anticipation, a time to prepare for something better that will be arriving soon. As Christians, Advent is a time to prepare for the anniversary of Christ’s birth into the world. We spend time praying and thinking about what Jesus means to us, atoning for our sins, and undergoing a spiritual conversion in time for Christmas.
If Jesus were to be born into our world at this time in history, how do you think he would view the climate crisis and our lack of attention to it? Do you think he would be okay with “business as usual” and punting it all down the road to future generations, because we were too busy making a buck or scoring wins over our supposed enemies? Probably not. Rather, I would think that Jesus would want us to side with His creation over our selfishness. Perhaps, Jesus would, amongst other things, want us to undergo an ecological conversion, as Pope Francis suggested in Laudato Si:
“The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast”. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.
By developing our individual, God-given capacities, an ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems and in offering ourselves to God “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable” (Rom 12:1).
As we celebrate this first Sunday of Advent, let us work towards undergoing an ecological conversion this Advent season. Working together, we can help take care of our common home.