I Thessalonians 4.1-8; Ps 96; Matthew 25.1-13
This day is designated the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Adam is charged by God to ‘till and keep’ (perhaps better rendered ‘serve and guard’) the Garden of Eden [Genesis 2.15]—in Hebrew, ‘abad and shamar. Much later, the Levites are given the duty of ‘serving and guarding’ (those same Hebrew words, ‘abad and shamar) the tabernacle in the wilderness. [Numbers 3.7-8] That is to suggest that the human duty of caring for the created world is a priestly work, a work of sacrifice. [cf Hebrews 8.3]
Sacrifice, of course, comes from the Latin words sacrum facere, to make holy. Adam was invited to sacrifice the fruit of one tree, reserving it for God himself. But Adam betrayed the priesthood for which he was created. And in the disastrous consequences of that betrayal [Genesis 3.23-24], St Paul reminds us, creation also participates. [Romans 8.20-23]
We are called to make creation holy by returning it; called to make the offering creation cannot make for itself, presenting the first of flock and herd, the firstfruits of earth and vine to sanctify the whole, handing it back to the One who made it, who alone can perfect it. Care for the creation is our fundamental human call: the priestly vocation by which God summons us to our truest and worthiest life.