It was ten days ago that Anna and I were watching TV and saw a report on the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. We were so turned off by what we heard and saw that right then and there we both decided to boycott watching the winter games. Why? A Russian deputy in Sochi reported the police there were ordered to catch and kill all the dogs they could find. In fact, the police were given a quota of dogs to kill each day, and this despite the authorities previous promise to round up and take good care of these animals. What was worse, the deputy called these dogs "biological garbage." He announced quite matter-of-factually, "the dogs easiest to catch and kill are the gentle, friendly ones because they walk right up to you." Anna and I looked at our gentle, friendly 6-year old white German shepherd and immediately declared the 2014 Olympic games canceled in our home!
Calling dogs "biological garbage" does not endear one to a dog owner's heart! But more importantly, it is a sad, untrue and deeply repulsive comment regarding God's creation. We kill dogs because they're a nuisance, slaughter elephants not for food but for ivory, beat baby seals to death with bats. Yet in the Book of Genesis, we read that everything God creates is good. That means there is no biological garbage on God's earth! Why then do some people insist there is? Some mistreat people who don't look like we look, who don't speak like we speak, who have mental or physical disabilities, as if they were "biological garbage." They look at created things but never see therein the genuine reflection of God's beauty and goodness. That's really sad!
There is another way, a better way, of looking at God's creation. We need to see created things as Jesus sees them. He constantly invites us to see what he sees, as he sees! In today's Gospel, we listened to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, he says the Ten Commandments are fine, but observing them is not enough! To appreciate God's creation, we've got to go beyond the rules. The Commandments look at creation from the outside. But the goodness of God is on the inside of things. Jesus holds us to this higher standard. He invites us to follow his example and look, listen and respond with compassionate hearts to each person, each creature - dog, elephant, baby seal - every thing we experience on this planet, in this universe. Each species has a message for us. That message is: I am God's creation. Respect me as such. Take care of me. That is the quiet message they speak to us. That message comes from each person we meet, each animal we encounter, each bit of earth we touch: I am God's creation. Respect me as such. Take care of me!
If we listen attentively to their messages, and respond with reverence, with care, with compassion, and with wonder, then we can truly understand the great mystery of all creation: namely, that we are related to everything God creates, and everything God creates is related to us. So, contrary to that deputy in Sochi, there is no "biological garbage." There never was. There never will be!