By CLIVE BUTCHER
Saturday 16 October 2021
24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:24-31
At last the land is populated and humankind makes an entrance, sharing the day with countless other living creatures. Yet humans are different, made in the image of God and entrusted with dominion over other living things. God's love for his whole creation is evident 'it was very good'. Later in Genesis his covenant included all the living creatures that were with Noah (9: 19). His caring is emphasised in Psalm 104:
'You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal;
The wild asses quench their thirst.' (10-11).
In Psalm 65 'all flesh', all living animals worship God.
Being made in the image of God our 'dominion 'is intended to reflect this love and caring, not abuse it. Sadly, we are continuing to fail in this respect. A recent study from the Natural History Museum has shown that the UK has lost more of its natural biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal life) than almost anywhere else in Western Europe, a consequence of leading in the industrial and agricultural revolutions. The decline in hedgehogs in Britain illustrates this, from around 30 million in the 1950s to about a million now.
World- wide wildlife populations have plummeted by more than two-thirds since 1970. Five main causes have been identified-changes in land use (for farming), exploitation of natural resources, the climate crisis, pollution and invasive species.
The different human interventions that have led to the loss of biodiversity are all interlinked. Urgent action is needed to reverse this destructive trend. There is some hope with the opening phase of the convention on biological diversity (CBD) Cop 15 meeting hosted by China. A second phase next year will aim to set targets for preventing biodiversity loss.
As individuals we can examine our actions, for example in what we eat and how we use plastic. We know the responsibility that God has given us but the rather odd story of Balaam, the donkey and the Angel (Numbers 22: 22-40) is a reminder of our fallibility!
A prayer from France
Lord be praised for the immensity and the beauty of your creation.
I pray with humility to be every single day more aware of the variety of species on earth and to seek for their protection
I thank you for this calling to take care of our planet that you put in many hearts, and I pray many others will follow.
I ask you the grace of being able to see the world with your eyes and to always be amazed by the places I'm blessed to go.
Lord help me to discern what specific choice I can make to reduce my ecological imprint on the earth and how I can be an encouragement to people around me to think and act about it.
At times when I can be discouraged by the amount of ecological issues, help me to remember I stand before holy ground when I encounter another person and to believe that you can make everything possible.
(By Prisca Liotard who is a French Catholic with a heart for the unity of Christians. Taken from 'Saying Yes to Life' by Ruth Valerio).