Simon is a theologian and formerly worked as a certified organic farmer in Southern Germany. He is currently assisting at St. Ansgar Youth pastoral (KSJ) in Hamburg and you may contact him at: simon.lochbrunner(at)jesuiten.org
Simon, what can we learn about God when we are faced with the planetary ecological challenges of today?
God remains incomprehensible to us. All rational statements about God can only be taken in an analogous manner from the world and are projected to God. We cannot draw conclusions directly from God’s self in order to determine our actions. On the environmental destruction however we can see that God has created a world that allows man to modify his environment and to intervene in the creation process – even in such a way that he harms himself. If we do not fulfill our responsibility, we (and the upcoming generations) will have to face the consequences.
How do we articulate the vision of the Kingdom of God in our current circumstances of environmental turmoil?
The vision of God’s kingdom is not touched by our current problems. After all, it is important that we live from the promise that we cannot save nor redeem ourselves. Starting from faith in our unbreakable communion with God, however, we have always the strength to commit ourselves to nature, instead of being exclusively concerned about ourselves and our greatest possible benefit. This is the basic dynamic: try to do the right thing, instead of being concerned only about your own advantage.
Do we have the spiritual tools to strengthen our commitment so as to take care of the earth?
We should ask: What are the reasons for us to destroy our own habitat? Is it not ultimately man’s concern for his own ego and his own interests? Considering this, I am convinced that we do have the only tool! The fear of man for himself can only be countered by the truth, that everybody is infinitely loved by God. God is love. Those who live by the word of God and who truly believe themselves to be loved by God, can, in the same measure, no longer be in fear of their lives and their needs (social recognition, aesthetic enjoyment, financial independence, etc.).
Are there any sacramental or liturgical expressions that can help us to respond to reconciliation with nature?
Reconciliation is a comprehensive event which affects the whole person. A person who is reconciled, it is always both reconciled with God, with his natural environment and with himself. Accordingly, whatever serves to reconciliation in general, serves also to reconciliation with nature. Particularly the sacrament of reconciliation is important to understand that nothing can separate us from the God’s love. Of course, the “service of reconciliation” includes any form of transmitting the “word of reconciliation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17-19) and God’s love. This can happen in many ways, most prominently in the celebration of the Eucharist.