A Christian theology of creation has much to learn from the attitude of respect which Jesus displayed towards the natural world. There is no support in the New Testament for a throw-away consumer society which destroys the natural world and produces mountains of non-biodegradable garbage or, which for example, produces toxic waste when, for example, plastics cups or Styrofoam plates are eventually burned or destroyed.
Jesus’ call to live lightly on the earth
The disciples of Jesus are called on to live lightly on the earth take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money and do not have two tunics (Lk. 9: 1- 6). Jesus constantly warns about the dangers of attachment to wealth, possessions and power over people. These in many ways are what is at the present moment destroying the poor and consuming the planet. Noel Kerins tells me that the average person in Peru is at present receiving only wages which has only 20 percent of the buying power that it had in the 1970s. So the well-being of the poor is also being undermined. How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God This is repeated in Mk. 10: 23; Lk. 16: 19 – 31 ( The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus), Matt 19: 23- 24: Lk. 18: 18 – 23 (The story of the Rich Young Man).
Jesus shows an intimacy and familiarity with a variety of God’s creatures and the processes of nature. He is not driven by an urge to dominate and control either people or the world of nature. Rather he displays and appreciative and contemplative attitude towards creation. This is rooted in the Father’s love for all creation –Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap: then have no storehouses and no barns: yet God Feeds them Lk. 12: 24. We need not be constantly fretting about acquiring more goods. God will provide for our needs : are you not worth more than the birds? Lk 12: 24.
Nature and the Birth of Jesus
The Gospels tell us that nature played an important role in Jesus’ life. At his birth, Luke tells us that he was laid in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn Lk. 2: 7. Pious tradition has immortalized this in the crib which appears in many Christian homes and churches during the Christmas season. Mary, Joseph and the animals surround Jesus at his birth. He was first greeted by people – the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks by night Lk. 2: 8. Mark tells us that the spirit drove him into the wilderness and he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan: and he was with the wild beasts: and the angels ministered to him Mk 1: 13. This time that Jesus spent in the desert was most formative for the messianic ministry by was about to embrace. In order to be fully open to and receptive to his vocation-call, Jesus forsook the company of people.
Jesus prayed in lonely places
We know that he regularly returned to the hills to pray an commune with the Father Matt 17: 1; Mark 6: 46 and Matt 14: 23 – After sending the people away, he went up to a hill by himself to pray. Whey evening came Jesus was there alone…
He prayed on the hills before making crucial decisions like choosing his disciples At that time Jesus went up a hill to pray and spent the whole night there praying to God. When day came he called his disciples to him and chose 12 of them whom he named apostles Lk 6: 12.
His ministry was mainly carried out in natural places – rather than
the synagogue or temple. In Matthew’s gospel the beatitudes and subsequent teaching are delivered on the Mountain Matt 5: 1 – 7: 29. Much of his teaching took place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee Matt 13: 1 – 52. Mark 4: 35 – 41: In John 21: 1 – 14. Jesus is back on the shores of the lake after the resurrection.
During Jesus’ time there was massive inequality of land distribution in Galilee. Powerful landlords many associated with Herod Antipas had taken over much of the land as agribusiness is doing today. In his own life-time Jesus would have seen the livelihood of many independent land-owners being eroded. Many were reduced to tenancy while others took to the roads as bandits. Jesus’ critique of the greed and acquisitiveness of the group known as the Herodians was a direct response to their rapacious behaviour. He would have known that, as usual, the poor would have carried the cost of Antipas’s building programme in Sepphoris (6km from Nazareth) and Tiberias on the shores of Lake Galilee. (Human as well as natural resources, especially water, were required to maintain the luxurious and decorative life of the urban elite with their fine garments and royal palaces, adorned with fountains and swimming pools. The elaborate water system at Sepphoris, ….is a classic example of human elite manipulating the environment for their own needs without any consideration of its impact on the agricultural activities of the landowners on the Nazareth ridge, on which ironically, they were making increased demands. It was to hard pressed people such as these that Jesus’ declaration of beatitudes were addressed and intended as good news. Blessed are the poor: Blessed are the poor: blessed are those who hunger now. His call to trust in the heavenly Father for food, drink and clothing n the basis that God cares for all his creation including humans, and exemplified in Jesus’ own life-style, was far too utopian in the circumstance of resentment of the exploitation by the rich was the dominant attitude among the displaced peasant