“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29)
As we head into year three of the pandemic, I thought of this line from John’s Gospel. An online search revealed several Sunday school lessons that linked the Doubting Thomas story with COVID19. One featured hairspray: you can’t see it, but you know it’s doing its job.
These lessons struck me as ironic. Children get the message more readily than adults. But far too many adults act as if the unseen threat is not there.
The same can be said of climate change. Young people see a grim future because invisible and excessive greenhouse gases are doing their job a bit too well. Yet for most adults, we simply go about our lives as if our CO2-spewing cars, homes, businesses and flights aren’t multiplying the threat of extreme floods and droughts.
Climate anxiety, especially among young people, is real. Stack on the social isolation of the pandemic, the deterioration of our civic discourse (often spilling over into our churches) and threats to our democracy, and it’s not hard to understand why more and more young people are looking elsewhere for hope, and leaving institutional solutions, including from our Church, behind.
Let’s all face reality as we head into Lent. We must rise to the real threat posed by climate change, lower the temperature on our civic discourse, purposefully encounter the “other”—including disillusioned young people—and embrace their story. And we must live a Christian life worthy of the example of Jesus, who loved all, especially the lost, the lonely, the forgotten, the outcast.
Catholic Climate Covenant
Reprinted with permission from the February 2022 Newsletter at www.catholicclimatecovenant.org