“We are custodians of Creation, not masters of Creation, it is a gift that the Lord has given us, to us!” the Pope declared to the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square at Wednesday's General Audience.
Beginning by asking what comes to mind when you hear the word “knowledge,” he said: “We immediately think of the human capacity to learn more about the reality that surrounds him and to discover the laws that govern nature and the universe.”
Yet, he noted, the knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit is different since “it’s not limited to human knowledge,” but is “a special gift which allows us to grasp, through Creation, the greatness and love of God and His profound relationship with every creature.”
The Pontiff stressed three aspects of this gift: the first relates to contemplation, the second to attitudes, and the third to witness.
Francis first showed that “when our eyes are enlightened by the Spirit, they open to the contemplation of God in the beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos," which, he said, “leads us to discover how everything speaks to us of Him and everything speaks to us of His love. All this arouses astonishment and a deep sense of gratitude in us!”
It is the feeling we experience when “we admire a work of art or any marvel that is the result of the genius and creativity of man” and is also the ability to “recognize, in all that we have and are, a priceless gift from God and a sign of His infinite love for us,” he said.
Turning to the second aspect, the Pope discussed Genesis, noting how its first chapter shows us that “God delights of His creation, by repeatedly emphasizing the beauty and goodness of all things.” But he said "if God sees that Creation is something good and beautiful, we too must have this attitude, we must see that Creation is something good and beautiful." Christians, he said, should thank God for not only beauty itself, but also for knowledge which allows us to recognize beauty.
“The gift of knowledge places us in profound harmony with the Creator and allows us to participate in the brightness of His gaze and His judgment. And it is in this perspective that we can grasp in man and woman the summit of Creation, as the fulfillment of a plan of love that is imprinted in each of us and that makes us recognize each other as brothers and sisters,” he said.
Noting the third aspect, Francis said: “All of this is a source of serenity and peace and renders the Christian a joyful witness of the God, in the wake of St. Francis of Assisi and many saints who were able to sing and praise His love through the contemplation of Creation.”
The Pontiff, at the same time, stressed there are types of attitudes faithful should avoid, saying “knowledge helps us to avoid falling prey to excessive or incorrect attitudes.”
The first lies in “the risk of considering ourselves masters of Creation," he said, adding: “Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few.” Rather, Creation is a gift, he said, “a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”
“Custody of Creation is custody of God’s gift to us and it is also a way of saying thank you to God. I am the master of Creation but to carry it forward I will never destroy your gift. And this should be our attitude towards Creation. Safeguard Creation," he encouraged.
“If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!” Francis warned. “When we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God:
'I don’t like it! This is not good!'
'So what do you like?'
'I like myself!'
Here, this is sin! Do you see?"
The second incorrect attitude, Francis said, is the” temptation to limit ourselves to creatures, but said,“with the gift of knowledge, the Holy Spirit helps us not to give in to all of this.”
“Creation is for us to use well,” he said, adding it is “to nurture,” and “not to exploit.”
Discussing God’s forgiveness when we destroy nature, he said: “Yes, it is true, God always forgives.” He added that men and women “sometimes, not always” forgive, but pointed out that “Father Creation never forgives!”
“If you don’t provide custody for Creation, it will never forgive you,” he said.