Why do the bells of Christmas ring?
Why do little children sing?

Once a lovely shining star,
Seen by shepherds from afar,
Gently moved until its light
Made a manger’s cradle bright.

christmas crib

There a darling baby lay,
Pillowed soft upon the hay;
And its mother sung and smiled:
“This is Christ, the holy Child!”

Therefore bells for Christmas ring,
Therefore little children sing.

 — Eugene Field

Dr. (Sr.) Mudita Sodder’s Christ Message to the readers of SILENT VOICE.
 “The Church has a responsibility towards Creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere,” said Pope Benedict XVI. In the year 2008 Newsweek, one of the world’s most popular weeklies, called Pope Benedict XVI “The Green Pope”, when he addressed 400,000 youth at the Youth Rally in 2007 in Loreto, Italy and said, “Learn to sustain the Planet before it is too late.” He also announced Seven New Sins that need repentance and forgiveness, and the fourth sin is, “THOU SHALL NOT POLLUTE THE ENVIRONMENT”. Pope Benedict XVI walks the talk. He has put up nearly 3000 panels to harness Solar Energy to run the State of Vatican. Solar collectors regulate the cooling and heating system of the Vatican buildings. He has adopted a large tract of Hungary’s Buukk National Park to reduce Vatican’s Carbon Footprint and several other Green Activities.
Christians have been the least environment friendly people. In the 1970’s Professor Lyn White, a theologian and a scientist, scientifically proved to the world, how Christians have destroyed the world. The historical roots of Christianity have resulted in an ecological crisis. Can we reverentially uphold the dignity and sanctity of all God’s Creation, Mother Earth and of the Environment and dream of a Green Christmas in this Year of Faith? Can we love and respect the whole of Creation as Jesus did? Can we pledge to do tiny Green Acts to make this dream a reality? Can we bring forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence here on the Blue Planet?
Genesis 2:15 says, “Yahweh God took the man and the woman and settled them in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.” Unfortunately we humans have desecrated and destroyed it. The Noah Story of the Old Testament too sets the tone. God cared for all His creatures which is why, He made provision for two of every species to be in Noah’s Ark- including the serpent He had cursed i.e. reptiles too were included. This shows that God cared for all His creatures. In the Old Testament Yahweh gave us the Book of Deuteronomy, the Nature Psalms and the Prophets etc. to enlighten us.
The first reading from Isaiah 52:7-10 speaks of the beautiful mountains and glad tidings. The birth of the babe i.e. the salvific event of Jesus at Christmas announces Peace and bears Good News. The Lord is restoring Zion and all the ends of the Earth will behold the salvation of our God. Matter and mud become the Body and Blood of Jesus. What are the signs of the times? What is God telling us today? Can we listen to His whisper? Alarm bells are ringing. Our Mother Earth is in Great Danger. Either we do something about this global concern which is very crucial, vital, urgent and alarmingly dangerous which needs our immediate attention and better the situation or perish with her. We have to cut carbon now or never. The climate emergency is acute. St. Hildegard of Bingen says, “The Earth forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the Incarnation of God’s Son.”
Jesus was eco-friendly, a true Son of the Earth. He was in love with the Earth which is why He spent most of His time in the open, praying and teaching on the hills, mountains, fields, valleys, among trees, on the seas etc. using every day familiar examples from creation, like birds of the air and lilies in the fields.
The Central Insight of the New Testament is that God is always in control and at work. He never ceases to care for us. New inventions and discoveries like solar energy, pedal energy, wind, water and wave energy are all the miracles of today. The Kingdom of God is here and now. God is savingly active all over the world, whispering into the hearts of people to stand and take action to protect the Planet. Ignatius of Antioch (35-110) a prophetic figure says, “Creation is the Primary Book of God’s Revelation”, while St Ireneus of Lyons, the 2nd century Church Father proclaimed, “The Glory of God is the human being fully alive.” Christian life is thus integrally related to the Earth and to the Environment. Francis of Assisi of the Middle Ages (1182-1226) and the Patron of Ecology ushered in a Revolution with his Spirituality of Relationships. Francis related to all of God’s creatures and lived a life of friendship and harmony with nature.
We have stretched Mother Earth beyond her regenerative capacity. 20% of her species are already extinct. The UN has declared the Decade 2011-2020 as the Decade of Biodiversity. The UN Convention of Parties (CoP XI) took place in Hyderabad in India in October 2012. Ecological earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, irregular monsoons, climatic changes etc. have come to stay. Land, water and air pollution continue unabatedly. The eco-balance is tilted and the rhythm of nature is dangerously affected.
In this Year of Faith, planting trees alone is not enough. We need to do more and act quickly before it is too late. Electricity is the biggest pollutant and India is the third biggest emitter of carbon-dioxide in the world. Biodiversity is the next most important area of concern and E-Waste Management needs to be looked at seriously. Individual actions make a difference.
Can we pledge to use electricity sparingly, put off lights and fans when not required keeping in mind the fact that 52 kilos of coal is burned emitting harmful carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere, to produce one unit of electricity. Carbon dioxide increases the hole in the ozone layer causing the frightening yet growing process of global warming and climatic change. Can we pledge to plant local species, eat seasonal vegetables and fruits, use both sides of paper, avoid plastics, use cloth or jute bags, use energy efficient vehicles and appliances and thus save biodiversity? Can we make a deliberate choice and decide to use electronic devices judiciously?
“Nature Protects if She is Protected”- (The logo for CoP XI). Tiny Green Acts like using water in a mug to brush our teeth, choosing organic food, drinking natural sherbets, using candles and diyas instead of electric bulbs for festivals, using carpools and public transport, giving eco-friendly gifts to friends and family etc. are small steps towards a long journey. Vatican II Document Gaudium et Spes (22) says, “Our mode of proceeding is to trace the footprints of God everywhere, knowing that the spirit of Christ is at work in all places and situations and in all activities and mediations that seek to make Him more present in the world.” This Christmas let us all join hands, take up our responsibility like one big family-Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam to reduce our own Carbon Footprint and increase our own Hand Print-the best gift perhaps, we can offer the babe in the manger. Happy Christmas 2012 and a Blessed New Year 2013!
Dr (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ
With inputs from Dr (Fr) Robert Athickal SJ, Co-ordinator Tarumitra, Patna
23rd December 2012
Blog :  http://www.silentmaj.wordpress.com

1 Comment

  1. December 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Dear Sr Mudita and Fr Robert,

    Happy Christmas to you ! The message is timely , in fact quite urgent . I’m thinking of a controversy regarding the Uttan dumping ground in Mira-Bhyander Municipal corp limits. You may be aware of the struggle going on.

    What hurts me is that the garbage from my building must be going to that same dumping ground, endangering the lives of my brethren who live in surrounding villages. I as an individual feel helpless because of various reasons because whenever I’ve tried to conscientize people in my own locality regarding garbage etc , they’ve shown disinterest and spiritualized the problems.

    I wonder whether the MBMC [Mira-Bhyander Municipal Corporation] is seriously thinking along the lines that your Tarumitra foundation works , for an immediate as well as long-term solution to the problems.

    Please may I request you to get in touch with the MBMC to start an intense one month campaign in MBMC jurisdiction, involving students in schools and colleges to ensure reduction of garbage, eco-friendly treatment of garbage and possible eco-friendly methods the MBMC could think of for the locality ? We need to begin something concrete.

    It seems like no coincidence that you’ve come up with a message that touches an issue close to our hearts at present. i have no connections or network to do anything , except to write on the issue. But my concern comes from the heart for what people are suffering.

    Thank you in anticipation. and God Bless you for your work !



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