Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 12:28b-34
October 31, 2021

Today, representatives of countries from around the world begin a series of meetings in Glasgow, Scotland.

The United Nations first called this gathering together back in 1995. This year, the event, known as COP26…which stands for 26th CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES…has been characterized as a “last ditch effort” to save planet Earth from the dire effects of global warming.

Clearly, the opinions of scientists with expertise in ecology and climate change will be of greatest interest. We can expect to hear alarming studies to the effect that “the concentration of carbon dioxide in 2020 was 149% higher than levels before industrialization, hitting another record.” (World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.)

Economists and humanitarians will also be weighing in on the disproportionate impact the crisis is having on poor and developing countries.

What might well be missing from the discussion and debate is “the spiritual climate change.” It is certainly worthwhile, considering the possible relationship between “spiritual cooling” and “global warming.” Just this past March, Gallup made public the results of a recent survey, showing that less than half of Americans belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque.

Pope Francis addressed the relationship between spiritual health and well-being and ecology in his brilliant encyclical:

Laudato Si.

Unfortunately, it did not seem to command the attention it deserved, even within the Catholic Church, and especially in this country. I wonder if the political noise in the US over the past decade has been such that spiritual concerns have been drowned out?

In any event, it does not seem likely that God will be center stage during the COP26 meetings. That is a real tragedy. If world leaders would come to the table with a sense of the truth that creation is a gift to creatures from our Creator, then this so called “last ditch effort” might actually accomplish its stated objective of saving our planet, and, at the same time, mitigating the suffering of people in developing nations.

If only humankind could put spiritual concerns ahead of politics, this meeting might be renamed…CON26…CONFERENCE OF NEIGHBORS.

Our First Reading and our Gospel make it quite clear that God’s plan is to care for humankind by having human beings care for one another. It rings hollow to say:

I love God…but, at the same time, regard any other fellow human being as a mere “party”…or worse…as opposed to “our neighbor.”

The Holy Spirit has not been invited to COP26 as far as I know. But let those of us who know and try our best to follow the two most important Commandments, pray that somehow, this Spirit of Life and Love and Harmony will break through the noise of politics…and make God’s will known.

Let us pray that what begins today as COP26 will somehow conclude as CON26…because then, we will be a little closer to The Kingdom of God.