I got my churches mixed up while visiting a daughter in Madison, Wisconsin, and came to Mass in the Middle of the homily. The brand new priest was giving a moving account of the round-about path to his ordination. A central piece of the homily was his experience of the sacraments, especially Eucharist and Reconciliation. The young priest concluded with a thought about our goal—to spend eternity with God in heaven. That’s something we all want to do, but it’s not a way I would express the ultimate goal of my life or where a sacramental celebration takes my thoughts usually.
The Eucharistic Acclamation at that Mass pointed in a different direction:
When we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus,
until you come in glory.
Jesus is coming here. Earth, in some sense or other, is where I imagine reaching my ultimate goal. Actually, the gospels say little about heaven—surprisingly little considering how much time sermons devote to it. “Kingdom of heaven” is Matthew’s translation of Mark’s “Kingdom of God”; and that really meant “Reign of God.” Jesus proclaimed God’s effective rule over God’s creation. All my little dreams and hopes combine into one huge longing for the day that happens.
Preparing the earth for Jesus’ Second ComingThe reign of God on earth is God’s work. I can’t make Jesus come again. But my efforts are not lost in the coming eruption of a new creation out of the old. That brings me to the second sermon of the day. It had to do with what this parish is doing for God’s earth, according to an announcement at the end of Mass.
The “Care for Creation” team is planning to install solar collectors to partly power the church and convent. The parish’s goal is to become carbon neutral. Besides using energy from its own solar panels, the parish will purchase wind and solar energy from the utility company.
The bulletin phrases this second homily this way;
To protect creation Pope Francis tells us: “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced; for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
I have enjoyed several opportunities to worship with this community in Madison. I’m impressed but not surprised that they have taken this important step. I look forward to the day I’ll come back and see a homily in solar panels.