Ecological thoughts are what come to mind as I reflect on Pentecost. Is it because ecology is a topic in fashion? Perhaps! But there’s more to it than just fashion. In fact, the way readings allude to the Holy Spirit I see some connection with ecological vocabulary like: Zero waste. So, I ask myself, how does the coming of the Holy Spirit sustain our hope and make us grow in faith through the ecological initiative of zero waste? Let’s reflect together.
Bible readings Acts 2: 1–11 Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29–31, 34 Romans 8: 8–17 John 14: 15–26
Culture of Waste
Zero waste sends me to Pope Francis’ speech to the European parliament, 25 November 2014 in Strasbourg, in which he warned against the culture of waste. This is not just about the things that we throw away, but also about persons who, because of illness or age, are downgraded as unproductive. Performance becomes a scale to measure a person’s dignity. The antidote for the culture of waste is the commitment to Zero waste where we make a maximum use of anything. Instead of succumbing to the tendency to throw one thing away and rush to get another one, we may become creative by making the effort to transform any potential waste into something usable and useful. However, to unleash such creativity, we may need first to fight the culture of waste.
Forms of zero waste
We can’t limit zero waste only to constant transformation but can also speak of effective use of what we have at hand. But how can we talk about effective, maximum use of things when planned obsolescence is a reality of what society produces? Manufactured items are a given an artificially limited lifespan, so that people can use them for a time, throw them away and then go and look for latest one. That’s an example of an induced consumerism, indeed, a culture of waste, intended to keep turning the economic wheel. Even worse, such throw-away tendency goes further to touch even the human persons and their relationships.
We may believe no longer in durability of relationship as friends or as couple. Similarly, we may believe no more in the durability of our commitment -we see things only in terms of short time. Here, it’s not just a question of temporality, things that come and go, but despair that may cloud the way we look at ourselves and the world around us.
Think of someone, ever feeling demolished, just because their past relationship didn’t work as they may have wanted it; consider the feeling of obsoleteness of someone who lost their job or because of illness/age. The list is endless of things that may leave us feeling out of date and useless. When we are caught up in such feeling; we end up convincing ourselves that we, and our relationships, are good for nothing but for the waste bin. Culture of waste! That’s why I wonder, at this Pentecost, how can the Holy Spirit inspire us into some ecological creativity?
Pentecost, breath of creation
The first reading, psalm, sequence and the Gospel acclamation, all of them, bring out clearly the role of the Holy Spirit as: regenerating, reinvigorating or reanimating. The first reading testifies by the charismatic proclamation of the simple Galileans, understood by everyone despite the differences of languages; the psalm speaks of the Spirit as life giving, and according to the sequence, the spirit is the ray of light that comes from above. How assuring, indeed, is a ray of light especially if you have been toddling in darkness! Where there’s slothfulness the Spirit ignites a fire of dynamism. It’s completely new creation that is associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Then you can understand the way John presents Pentecost.
On the Easter Sunday Jesus comes to his disciples, confined in the house for fear of Jews, and breaths on them saying: receive the Holy Spirit. It’s a gesture of creation, as God did in Genesis when creating the human person. And by associating the gift of the Spirit and the ministry of pardon and reconciliation, it’s like saying where there’s sin there’s alienation, a kind of death. And so, this ministry in the power of the Spirit is intended to revive those who have been estranged and wounded by sin. In the pardon and reconciliation is a bold expression that despite what may have happened between us, our relationship has not become obsolete; we can, once again, arrive at holding hands and moving forward together. Indeed, where is that strengthened and rejuvenated relationship if not the one re-established after past wounds, thanks to pardon and reconciliation?
The Holy spirit comes to encourage in our affirmation: zero waste, no more the culture of waste. That means, we become determined to transform, even what may seem to be the worst experience, into something usable and useful. And so, celebrating Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, we announce not only our hope but also our openness to welcome a new breath in whatever we live today. We express our longing for freshness.
Yes, Lord, at this Pentecost we present to you especially what appear to be the worst of our experiences. It could be our own selves, other persons or things which we are ready to shovel into waste bin. Blow on them your breath of life of your Spirit and we shall have, out of them, something usable and useful. Oh, yes Lord, send us your Holy Spirit and our lives shall be renewed.
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