These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s first reading we are given a tremendous responsibility and a tremendous gift. The responsibility is tilling and keeping God’s creation. The gift is freedom to interact with that creation as we see fit. It’s our choice how we want to coexist with the physical world in which we live.
On World Environment Day, Pope Francis challenged us. “… this task entrusted to us by God the Creator requires us to grasp the rhythm and logic of creation. But we are often driven by pride of domination, of possessions, manipulation, of exploitation; we do not ‘care’ for it, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a free gift that we must care for.”
A free gift that calls us to be stewards of our earth. Living as Adam and Eve did before the fall, in harmony with nature, enjoying the fruits so abundantly provided. Tilling and keeping creation so all who inhabit this planet might enjoy this abundance.
In my own way, how do I till and keep creation?
—Tom Drexler is the Executive Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a ministry providing Ignatian retreats to men and women experiencing homelessness.
Praised be my Lord God with all creatures;
and especially our brother the sun,
which brings us the day, and the light;
fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor:
O Lord, he signifies you to us!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon,
and for the stars,
which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.
—Excerpt from Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi