Temperatures in Rome exceeded 28C during Pope Francis’ General Audience today. The focus of his homily was knowledge. “the gift of knowledge helps us to avoid falling prey to excessive or incorrect attitudes. The first lies in the risk of considering ourselves masters of Creation. Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is 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”.
He urged people to nurture and safeguard Creation as God’s greatest gift to us, because while God always forgives, Creation never forgives and – he warned – if we destroy Creation, in the end it will destroy us!
Pope Francis’ warning was particularly welcomed by representatives of the Indigenous Peoples of the World Association ‘The spirit of the planet’, who attended the audience.
A Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis: follows:
Pope Dear Brothers and Sisters, good day!
Today I want to highlight another gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of knowledge . When we speak of knowledge, 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. The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit, however, is not limited to human knowledge: it is a special gift, which allows us to grasp, through Creation, the greatness and love of God and His profound relationship with every creature.
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, and lead 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: before all of this, the Spirit leads us to praise the Lord from the depths of our hearts and recognize, in all that we have and are, a priceless gift from God and a sign of His infinite love for us.
The first chapter of Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible, shows us that God delights of His creation, by repeatedly emphasizing the beauty and goodness of all things. At the end of each day, it is written : “God saw that it was good” ( 1,18.104.22.168 ) …but 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. The gift of knowledge, of this beauty, we have to thank God for having given us this gift, this beauty! This is the path…and when God finished creating man, He didn’t say that “it was good”, He said that it is “very good!”, He draws us close to Him. And in God’s eyes we are the greatest, the most beautiful, the best things about Creation…”But father the Angels? No the Angels are beneath us! We are more than the Angels! We heard it in the Book of the Psalms! God really loves us! We have to thank him for this!
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.
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.
At the same time, however, the gift of knowledge helps us to avoid falling prey to excessive or incorrect attitudes. The first lies in the risk of considering ourselves masters of Creation. Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is 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.
The second incorrect attitude is the temptation to limit ourselves to creatures, as if they can provide the answer to all our expectations. With the gift of knowledge, the Holy Spirit helps us not to give in to all of this…but I would like to return to the first wrong path…Custodians Creation, not Masters of Creation it is a gift that the Lord has given us, to us! We are Custodians of Creation. But 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? 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. Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!
Once I was in the countryside and I heard a saying from a simple person who loved flowers and he nurtured these flowers and he said we must nurture these beautiful things that God has given us. Creation is for us to use well, not exploit to nurture…because do you know father, God always forgives – Yes it is true God always forgives…We men, women, we forgive sometimes – Yes sometimes we forgive, not always …But father Creation never forgives! And if you don’t custody Creation it will never forigive you”.
This should give us pause for thought and ask the holy Spirit for the gift of knowledge that Creation is a gift from God, a gift for the best thing He created which is the human person…
This is the official English language summary of the Holy Father’s catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, we now consider the gift of knowledge. Through this spiritual gift, we are enabled to see every person, and the world around us, in the light of God’s loving plan. In a sense, we see the beauty, harmony and goodness of all creation with the eyes of God its maker.
As is clear from the lives of Saint Francis of Assisi and so many other saints, the gift of knowledge gives rise to grateful contemplation of the world of nature and joyful praise of the Creator.
The perspective given by this spiritual gift leads us to respect God’s gift of creation and to exercise wise stewardship of its resources for the benefit of the whole human family. It also prevents us from restricting our vision to the persons and things of this world alone, forgetting that in their order, value and beauty they point beyond themselves to God, their source and ultimate end. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us grow in the knowledge which enables us to perceive the love with which God guides the world, to respond with gratitude and to praise him for his infinite goodness and love.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. God bless you all!.