Pope Francis said Sunday that his coming encyclical on the care of creation is not just for some, but is addressed to all, and serves as an invitation to pay more attention to environmental destruction and recovery. In his comments to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his June 14 Angelus address, Pope Francis noted how his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation, “Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home,” will be published this Thursday, June 18. “This encyclical is addressed to all,” he said, and invited the world to participate in its publication “with a renewed attention to environmental degradation, but also to recovery” of one's own territory. “Let us pray so that everyone may receive (the encyclical’s) message and grow in responsibility toward the common home God has entrusted to us.” Francis made his comments on the encyclical after leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, which he does every Sunday in St. Peter’s Square. Before leading those gathered in the Angelus prayer, the Pope reflected on the day’s scripture readings, particularly the Gospel, which focused on two parables using the image of seeds planted in the ground. On the image of the mustard seed presented by Jesus in the day’s Gospel from Mark, Pope Francis noted how despite being the smallest of all seeds, once planted it grows into “the largest of all plants” in the garden. He said that the kingdom of God is like the mustard seed since it is often viewed as “a humanly small and apparently irrelevant reality.” “To enter and become a member one needs to be poor in heart; not trusting in their own abilities, but in the power of the love of God; not acting to be important in the eyes of the world, but precious in the eyes of God, who prefers the simple and the humble,” Francis explained. If we live according to these criteria, then the power of God “bursts through us and transforms what is small and modest into a reality that leavens the whole mass of the world and of history,” he continued. Francis turned to a second parable offered in the Gospel, which tells of a man who plants seeds on his land that grow without his effort, and who then cuts the crop when the harvest comes. The man could be either awake or asleep and the seed would still grow on its own because the man trusted in both the seed’s own capacities as well as the fertility of the soil, the Pope said. In the Gospel the seed is seen as a symbol for the Word of God, he noted, and explained that just as the “humble seed” grows in the ground, so God’s Word stirs and works in the heart of those who hear it. “God has entrusted his Word to our land, that is, to each of us with our concrete humanity. We are able to be fruitful, because the Word of God is a creative word” that leads to a full harvest, the Pope continued. Francis stressed that it is always God himself who makes his kingdom grow since only he can make it take root and mature. Man, he said, is God’s “humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices in the creative divine action and waits patiently for the fruits.” Pope Francis closed his reflections by saying that although our own “weak” efforts might seem small when faced with the complexity of the world’s current problems, we have no reason to fear difficulties if we unite our work with Christ. “The victory of the Lord is secure: his love will sprout and make every seed of goodness grow on the earth. This opens us to trust and hope, despite the dramas, injustices and the sufferings we meet,” he said. After leading pilgrims in the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis greeted pilgrims present from around the world, and gave special mention to a group coming from Houston, Tx., before wishing everyone a good lunch and asking for prayers.
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