Speaking Out: What I learned from Genesis

By  Andrea Dsouza, Youth Speak News
  • April 4, 2019

This year, I decided to read the Bible all the way through, starting at the book of Genesis.

In the story of our Creation, God gave man “dominion” over everything. Dominion … what an ugly word, right? I think we all prefer the word stewardship.

But that’s the thing. In Genesis 1, pre-fall, mankind didn’t know sin, disorder, selfishness, exploitation and evil. He only knew how to perpetuate God’s good and perfect order over the Earth.

This dominion was stewardship because it flowed out of a good relationship with God. But along the way, sin came along and we lost this beautiful connection to the world.

Reading Genesis it became obvious to me that each and every one of us is called to care for creation. Since then, I have been thinking about what it means to carry this forward in my own life.

Not owning a car, I rely on public transit and ride-sharing.

Having a reusable coffee mug means reducing the use of disposable cups. The list of the little things that we can do day-by-day and step-by-step to help us care for creation is endless.

And who knows maybe some of us are called to make an impact us on a much larger level.

Either way the command remains and the world it will bring us fulfilment — to think about what it means to be in right relation with the Earth, each other, ourselves and God.

This is why I love how Jesus Christ came to restore this right relationship. When Jesus died for us on the cross, He came to restore our relationship between us and God, between us and other people, between us and ourselves, and lastly, between us and the stuff of Earth.

It always starts with love. The only thing that can transform us is love.

Love the good Earth that God has made. Spend time in nature, going for short walks. Experience the beauty of nature and know that the same hands that made you made the mountains, the seas, the fields and all that is within it. Let God love you through all He has created.

When that love meets you, it has the ability to transform you and inspire you to serve God by caring for the Earth, in a few big ways or perhaps a million little ones.

And if listening to a 23-yearold’s take on the Bible is the last thing you want to hear, I thought I would pull some quotes from different encyclicals across the years to prove how this call to stewardship is an essential part of the faith life of the Church.

St. Pope John Paul II in Laborem Exercens (“On Human Work”): “Learning the meaning of creation in our daily lives will help us to live holier lives. It will fill the world with the spirit of Christ, the spirit of justice, charity and peace.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”): “Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other.”

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”): “Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations.”

I think we can see from the writings of our last three popes, it is in learning the meaning of creation, understanding our roles as stewards and thinking through what it means to be accountable to creation in our own lives that we, the Church, can carry this forward.

(Dsouza, 23, is a fourth-year First Nations and Indigenous studies student at University of British Columbia in Vancouver)

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