Homily

Please lend me your voices and sing with me this Easter hymn we often sing in church: "Alleluia, alleluia, let the holy anthems rise, and the choirs of heaven chant it in the temple of the skies! Let the mountains skip with gladness and the joyful valleys ring with hosannas in the highest to our Savior and our King." Mountains skipping with gladness! Joyful valleys ringing with hosannas! There is a theology of the earth and of the entire cosmos at play here. All creation, the sun, the moon, the stars, the universe, and the earth itself with its mountains and valleys, its birds, fish, plants and animals all just by their very being are giving honor, praise and glory to God!

Contrast this with what some humans do. To illustrate: There was a photo essay in Life magazine years ago. It was about the red foxes of Holmes County, Ohio. These foxes lived in the woods and ate mostly mice and crickets but sometimes they also ate quail. That was their downfall! It made the people of Holmes County angry because they wanted to eat the quail themselves. So one Saturday, hundreds of men, women and children came together and formed a big circle five miles around. They started walking towards each other through the woods and fields, yelling and shouting and carrying sticks and clubs to frighten the red foxes out of their dens. Within the circle of humans closing in on them, foxes darted to and fro, terrified and bewildered. Sometimes a fox would dare to snarl back at its human tormentor and would be killed on the spot. Sometimes, the magazine photos show, the foxes would stop running and stay with their wounded and dying; they too were beaten to death. As the circle got smaller, the remaining foxes retreated to the center and lay down for they knew not what else to do. But the people knew what to do. They struck them with their sticks and clubs till every last red fox was dead, and they encouraged their children to do the same. This is a true story. Life magazine not only reported it but photographed it in great detail.

Killing red foxes this way diminishes God's honor, praise and glory. It declares that some of God's creatures are not worthy, not good enough to share this bountiful earth with us. Yet in the Book of Genesis, God looks upon all creation : the plants, the birds, the fish, the animals : and pronounces all of them "GOOD!" Yet we humans in our folly disagree. We put toxins in the air we breathe and in the soil that grows our food. We blow the tops off mountains and turn forests into deserts. We pollute our rivers, lakes and oceans. We bring fish, birds and animals : all God's good creatures -- to the brink of extinction. We slaughter noble, intelligent elephants for their ivory. We pound and hammer baby seals to death for their skins. We kill mighty bears to make house carpets. We kill swordfish for wall trophies. None of this is necessary for our life, for our sustenance. On the contrary, it irreparably damages us in so many ways. More importantly, it diminishes the honor, praise and glory to God that reside in all these creatures and in all creation.

There was a time when people were more kind and sensitive to nature, to all God's creation. Francis of Assisi spoke often of brother Sun and sister Moon and befriended birds and animals alike. We can too. We can make every day an Earth Day by respecting and caring for all God's creatures and all God's creation. If we do, then once again, mountains will skip with gladness and joyful valleys ring with hosannas. And if we listen carefully, we may even hear the red foxes of Holmes County join that chorus of hosannas in the temple of the skies!

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