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Text: Laudato Si’ Online
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Understanding Pope Francis on “The Gaze of Jesus”
As we have worked our way through the first two chapters of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis has concentrated the most of his effort on sharing environmental concerns and directing us towards our obligation as Christians to care for all of God’s creation.
Now during this last section, titled “The Gaze of Jesus,” he moves into a more theological area where we look less at what needs to be done and more on why we need to do anything at all. He turns and directs us to Jesus.
Christian Green Living for Love of Christ
I find the title of this section fantastic. “The Gaze of Jesus.” If we close our eyes and put ourselves into the time of Christ, this section brings us so perfectly into the mindset Christian Green Living. We do all things for Christ who lives within us (Galatians 2:20).
Pope Francis evokes thoughts of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples. As his closest friends, Jesus often shared how much God values and loves all he has created and emphasized the love of God as ‘father’. As examples, the Pope quotes Luke 12:6 and Matthew 6:26, sharing that even sparrow birds which had very little value in human standards were not “forgotten before God” who “feeds them.” (Paragraph 96)
He continues to share examples, showing that Jesus often pointed out the beauty of earth to his disciples because he himself appreciated the good work of the Father found in creation. The scriptures show us over and over small details on how he sought out the divine in simple things. Jesus directed his disciples to look for and seek out the divine in even the simplest of things around them. (Paragraph 97)
“What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” –Matthew 8:27
Through the quote above Pope Francis shares that “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation and others were amazed.” Jesus, he says, was not something outside of the world or in opposition to the pleasant things of humanity. He didn’t “despise the body” or things of this world. But rather, he enjoyed life and all the good things life has to offer in harmony with truth. Pope Francis offers images of Jesus enjoying food and drink then being accused of being “a glutton and a drunkard” (Matthew 11:19) for doing so as if food and drink are in themselves in opposition to goodness. The Pope says this isn’t so. Jesus, he says, worked and lived a simple life through which he “sanctified human labor” by working closely with “matter created by God.” (Paragraph 98)
To the heart of it, for us, Christians knowledge centers around “the mystery of Christ from the beginning” and “all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). It is through his Incarnation, his becoming man, that Pope Francis says, that “from the beginning of the world, the mystery of Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world.” (Paragraph 99)
The Earth Too will be Radiant with the Glory of God
Finally, Pope Francis concludes this section on “The Gaze of Jesus” with images and thoughts of the risen Christ. He reminds us here that the New Testament scriptures don’t end with Jesus’ physical life and death. Instead, the scriptures direct us towards the end of time when Christ will be “glorious” and “present throughout creation by his universal Lordship.” Then, the Pope says, “The very flowers of the field and the birds which his human eyes contemplated and admired are now imbued with his radiant presence.” God will not only be the creator, but also all of creation will be full with his light. (Paragraph 100)
As we continue our study series, Pope Francis goes in depth in Chapter 3 on “the Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis starting with what he titles, “Technology: Creativity and Power.” Until then, you can read more from our Laudato Si’ series page here.
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