Recently I’ve been listening to a CD compilation of several of Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire homilies. I always enjoy listening to Fr. Barron. He manages to convey deep concepts in a very interesting, and often fun, way. Needless to say, his brainpower far outstrips my own but, because of his great speaking skills, I can actually understand most of his deep theological and philosophical points.
So, there I was driving down the street listening to Fr. B give a homily on the story of Noah and the Great Flood when I was struck by something interesting. Father pointed out the specific wording of a portion of that reading that I hadn’t ever noticed or thought about before. “God said to Noah and his sons with him: ‘See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you: all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals that were with you and came out of the ark.'” (Genesis 9:8-10) Excuse me?!? Did that just say that God made a covenant with animals? Yep. Turns out God’s covenant is not just with mankind. It’s also with animal kind. Did you know that? I didn’t.
I don’t know about you but, to me, this is a significant point. The idea that God entered into a covenantal relationship with Man is amazing on it’s own. But, the fact that God values all living creatures so much that he entered into a covenant with them really gives me pause. If I didn’t think taking care of Creation was important before, I certainly do now. It underlines the Church’s teachings about the value of Creation as well as our responsibility to care for it.
As you may know, a covenant is far different from a contract. When two people form a contractual relationship, the contract only remains intact if both parties uphold their part of the bargain. But a covenant is different. Because a covenant is based on a relationship, if one of the parties doesn’t keep the covenant, the other party is still obligated to fulfill it. This is true of our covenant with God, it’s especially true in the covenant of marriage, and now we see it’s true of our covenant with Creation.
So, instead of asking, “Am I taking care of the environment?”, the question now becomes, “Am I remaining in covenant with God and all living creatures?”