By Bro. Robert Wotypka, OFM, Cap.
Nothing like a splash of Latin to capture the attention of many a Catholic. Has it worked? Good. This phrase is not from the Bible. As far as I can tell, Saint Jerome, who crafted the Vulgate Latin version of the Scriptures, and who was, by many accounts, not a lot of laughs, did not need or use it. Anyone know the Latin for “From one, three?” Now that would be elegant – and theologically correct.
“Out of many, one” was the motto of these United States of America (and a hearty “Hello!” to all our international readers) until 1957, when it was replaced by “In God We Trust.” Is either motto descriptive? Or aspirational? Or both? Or neither? The phrases come to mind in the context of today’s readings, for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent (March 27, 2019), and in the context of my attending, as the province’s Corporate Responsibility agent, the twice-yearly conference of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, which the Province of Saint Joseph participates in through its membership in the Seventh Generation Coalition for Responsible Investing.
The revelation of God to our ancestors in the Book of
Deuteronomy, as proclaimed today, is this:
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today? (Dt: 4: 6-8)
Jesus engages the law, too, in Matthew’s Gospel, underscoring that it will endure, that it is binding on all generations, even in the bright and wonderful light of the Incarnation. How so? Long story short: because the covenant is enduring, the law is likewise enduring.
Scripture is speaking of the Mosaic law. But it is not so with
us, not so, with regard to our relationship with the state. We change laws, and
we must. Or we take what was once custom or tradition and codify it. This was
the case in the transition of the national motto, which was unofficially “E
Pluribus Unum” from 1782 until the official law was passed in 1957 and “In God
We Trust” was adopted.
Being a nation of ever-changing laws aligns with the wisdom of the Church, which speaks of itself in the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes as being ever in need of reform Franciscan spirituality begins from the necessity of being ever open to conversion, aka reform. And this aligns with my work as the Corporate Responsibility agent, which asks companies to be ever open to reform, to turn away from doing harm when harms are identified, and to embrace doing good: good for your customers, good for your employees, good for our common home, and good for your shareholders. And long will the company prosper that finds no contradiction in this.
May I then propose a reform? It comes from “the cry of the
earth,” to use Pope Francis’ image from Laudato
Sí. All but a fringe-y few acknowledge the need to mitigate the harms from
catastrophic climate change that’s occurring as a result of the accumulation of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Age. Power
generation accounts for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Moving away
from energy generated from the burning of fossil fuels must therefore be among
the first reforms wrought in the economy and the culture.
But it won’t be easy. Every utility has the ability to source
its energy as it sees fit, that is, there are few obstacles preventing a power
company from choosing a coal-fired power plant over, say, a wind farm or a
solar array. Whatever is built will be regulated, but there are few laws
specifying what is to be built, or none in many locales. Every utility is
accountable to a public utility commission – and each PUC has its own laws,
across all 50 states. Oh, and then there’s the rest of the world. Some nations
have laws in place to oblige utilities to move toward renewable energy sources,
and some do not.
Lord, give me the wisdom to ever trust you. I do. And I
discern, and I invite and welcome your discernment, that it is now time as well
for E pluribus unum, with regard to
energy production. Out of the many companies and utilities and nations must
emerge one set of laws, grounded in care for creation and love of our common home,
that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the hope that future
generations will not suffer needlessly as a result of our choices.
Pope Francis also wrote in Laudato
Sí that realities are more important than ideas. Would you like to see what
a just transition to sustainable energy looks like? Please, go here: https://www.powermag.com/indiana-utility-will-close-coal-units-transition-to-renewables/
And let us go in peace.