Homilette for Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday of the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

(Mark 12:1-12)

Philosophers debate the existence of God by telling the story of two men who come to a clearing in the jungle with many beautiful flowers. One of the men says that a gardener must have planted the flowers. The other disagrees saying that they are wild flowers. So they decide to experiment by waiting around to see if a gardener appears. After a couple of days without anyone coming to tend the garden, the man who proposed that a gardener planted the flowers says that the gardener must be invisible.

God, for those of us who believe, is the invisible gardener who created the world and all its contents. Atheists say “no,” there is no invisible gardener but only an imaginary one existing in the minds of believers. In the gospel Jesus tells us that there is indeed a gardener. The vineyard Jesus mentions is like a garden, and God is the one who planted it. Therefore, God has a right to demand that the vineyard’s caretakers produce fruit for Him. Of course, generally we understand Jesus’ vineyard as the earth and the fruit which God expects as justice and peace. But we might see the vineyard as the physical environment which we are to care for. We must not pollute it, wantonly kill its creatures, or wastefully deplete its resources. The Book of Genesis underlines this responsibility by saying, “God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15).

Obviously, one does not have to believe that God is the invisible gardener to care for the environment. But we who do so believe should become environmentalists. We might also question how people arguing that God is but an imaginary gardener would defend the universal need to care for the earth which is felt so strongly today.