For almost two weeks at Mass we’ve been reading about the creation of the world and the origin and development of the human family, beginning with Adam and Eve, from the first 11 chapters of Genesis. An important source for understanding where we come from and our relationship with creation.
In today’s reading God renews with Noah and his descendants the covenant made with humanity and the earth. Once again, after the fall, as human beings go into different lands and take up various trades, they’re blessed by God. The renewal of the covenant is an act of mercy, the responsorial psalm for today reminds us.
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.” (Psalm 102)
God’s blessings will continue through time. His abiding mercy is signified in the promise God makes that there will not be another flood to devastate the earth. The rainbow signifies hope and mercy.
“I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.” (Genesis 9,12)
God’s blessings will continue through time. God’s mercy will abide. But God does not take away the freedom the human family enjoys. Made in the likeness of God, human beings are free, yet what they do with their freedom and their lives has consequences, not only for themselves, but for creation itself.
The abuse of human freedom can lead to dire consequences for humanity and creation itself. “When my people did not hear my voice, when Israel would not obey, I left them in their stubbornness of heart to follow their own designs.” (Psalm 81) God does not micro manage history.
Today some see God’s promise “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed” as repudiating any threat of climate change, but that’s not the promise made in Genesis. Human “stubbornness” can have disastrous consequences for humanity and the created world so closely related to it.
For humanity to flourish, it needs to have a good relationship with creation. Human flourishing and human relationships are not enough, we need a relationship with creation, not a dominating relationship, or a selfish relationship, but one of love and care. Creation rises and falls with us.