In today’s gospel, we get two drastically different pictures of servants put in charge of the owner’s estate while he is away. One is careful, generous, and watchful. The other mistreats the other servants, is self-indulgent, and unprepared for the owner’s return. While this parable certainly is meant to help us think about the end times when the Lord returns, it provides us today an opportunity to reflect on our relationship to the Earth.
All Creation has been entrusted to us. So, what are we doing with it? Destroying it or caring for it? Using it all up so nothing remains for the next generations? Sharing its bounty generously or hoarding the riches for ourselves? How shall we respond when the Lord of all Creation returns and asks us, “What have you done to the Earth that I entrusted to you?”
The 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home” is an exquisite reflection on connecting our love of God to our love of neighbor and to our love of Creation. Just as we cannot say we love God yet turn a blind eye to those in need, we cannot say we love God and turn a blind eye to the denigration of the Earth.
We might imagine the wicked servant offering an excuse, “But I didn’t know when you were returning.” We know we are being hard on this Earth. Our actions do have an impact on Creation, which includes how we care for the poor, the sick, and the stranger. The call to “repent and believe in the Good News” includes, as Pope John Paul II said, an ecological conversion.
“Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered.” (Laudato Si’, no. 70) It is for us to decide which of the two servants we shall model ourselves after.