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The Gospel of the needy, of judgement, the Beatitudes before COP

Pedro Walpole SJ

This is the end of the Church’s year, a good time to review and set in place how we seek to go forward, brought home by the thought of the end of the world and God’s judgement.

God’s judgement and how Jesus was judged are very different stories. In the final judgement, Jesus identifies with the human condition: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the imprisoned, not with the perfect. It is another casting of the Beatitudes.

This moment allows us go easy with our own sense of judgement of others, relinquishing our personal sense of judgement, and recognizing ultimately that only God knows who is first and who is last in the rollcall.

We can try a new round of listening to others, of dialogue, and of not getting into rutted differences. We need to constantly live out moments in response to others where we accept the limitations and realize the necessity of kindness.

I go as an observer to the UNFCCC’s 28th Conference of Parties, the COP climate meeting in Dubai. I have a clear agenda of five themes that I will watch and report on, as these need to reach new levels for action. There are some key people I will meet and broader civil society discussions in which I will participate. I have to go easy and find the right people – those to listen to and who are not sure so that I can know their story.

In this global crisis we have to posit hope, hope beyond ourselves and in the coming generations. Hope is not found in human judgement but in the humble integrity of all our actions.

I believe the creation of God that is around us and in us, sustains us. We can have no physical life without this relation. We do not realize how woven we are into the systems of air, water, soil, temperature, bacteria, eukaryotic cells, and mycorrhizal fungi – even before we get to the organisms we can see, let alone the other sentient animals.

We have to learn again with great simplicity, the human expression of awe in creation and the gift that is all the life. We have to learn respect and know the limits of our actions before we are thrown further from the Garden of Eden, into a world without seasons.

If we are to respond to the hunger, the thirst, the naked, the imprisoned, and not judge but help in this inequitable world, we have to care for creation and the most vulnerable and exposed communities and societies. We have only the appeal of what is in today’s Gospel to change the way we all live and it is an invitation to all.

Judgement is left to God, and nowhere should we give up the hope that goes beyond our national arguments and agreements. For in true hope, we need faith enfolded in how we act.

The De Statu Societatis (The State of the Society) Jesu also calls us to collaborate in the reconciliation of all things, creation and neighbour, in Christ. COP28 is not a secular/business/technocracy decision; but a decision to sustain life.

The core decisions are moral decisions, not simply economic. Climate is the moral challenge of this age (amongst a weave of others) and if we learn to live with and in the climate-creation symbiosis, we will recognize the importance of healing over power.

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