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A reflection in Bonn during COP23: What change in lifestyle demands

15 November 2017
Bikes to go to and from the Bula and Bonn zones in the COP23 venue in Bonn. Photo credit: S. Miclat

Bikes to go to and from the Bula and Bonn zones at the COP23 venue in Bonn. Photo credit: S. Miclat

Pedro Walpole

The Ecojesuit team gathered in Bonn to take part in a global process that is reckoning with climate action.  During one of our sessions, Pedro shared reflections on Fr Arturo Sosa’s letters where we need to discern priorities and changes needed, in the global and local, and also changes in ourselves, in our lifestyles, as called for in Laudato Si’.

The core change in our lifestyle is that we must begin always and at all times with being merciful.  Being merciful calls for a change in lifestyle (GC36, D1.20).  If we begin with an attitude of mercy, then the challenge of simplicity is obvious and the world is not so complex that we cannot act.

If we begin each day with gratitude, gratitude for life and for God’s loving mercy, then we are free to go out to the world and not be bound by it.  This is the joy of the Gospel: that we announce God’s loving mercy and the message of reconciliation.  Even to the powerful and the rich, we must speak of their practice of humility and mercy.

We must caution ourselves that we must act with humility.  To the rich we must speak of humility and mercy, not simply judgement.  Courage is constitutive of every apostolic action, we must not underestimate people’s capacity to say “Yes.”

“Consolation is joy without prior cause, the movement towards God which is true peace and freedom to do the Father’s will.  Constant in tribulation (not blaming self), we need to live the conflict and humiliation until the end without minimizing or being cunning; remain true to purpose, to discerning God’s will.”

We need to continue to experience the merciful gaze of God.  At the centre of every church, we look upon the image of the Christ crucified to experience the merciful gaze of God who created this universe and wants us in our imperfections to live the mystery of life to the full.  Christ hangs crucified for two reasons – so we may know forgiveness and so those who suffer know that he suffers with them.  Christ, who looks upon us with mercy, chooses us and “sends us forth with the same powerful mercy to the poor, the sinners, the abandoned, the crucified and anyone who suffers from injustice and violence in today’s world.” (from the Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, 24 October 2016)

Collaboration in mission is to trust in God, not in any action.  Work with Indigenous Peoples and the land, going as far as addressing the planetary boundaries, is not just my concern, but is part of the Jesuit mission – God’s mission.  I partake of this in becoming a companion in a mission of reconciliation and justice in the Philippines, as we all do in our different works of reconciliation.  I am constantly challenged to open a deeper participation in community and to invite others to participate in our mission in Bendum and the living landscape.

Conversation is marked by active and receptive listening and a desire to talk of that which touches us most deeply – creating trust and welcome.  Solidarity is that we may enter more deeply into the suffering of humanity and creation through the passion and death of Jesus.

The instrumentalization of death as a tool of the powerful to control and instill fear is most deeply experienced through martial law in the Philippines, the killings of environmental defenders in Honduras, the continuous plight of refugees from Africa and Syria, among others.  This is the deepest challenge of our faith, to pass through this suffering in the waiting of Holy Saturday, when all is lost – especially a saviour – and in this active waiting and finding, the promise is fulfilled.

In the presence of the risen Lord, we bring hope to a broken world.  Our encounter and the encouragement in meeting each other here in Bonn give us a newness of life and a message of hope.

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