Rediscovering the Rhythms of Nature

A piece of land can be “played out” by planting the same crop over and over again, year after year. Crop rotation can be one way to conserve and restore the fertility of the soil. Like people, the land needs a rest. And care for the land is connected with care for the people living on the land, especially the poor. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis recalls the biblical practice of giving rest to both people and the land:

The biblical tradition clearly shows that this renewal entails recovering and respecting the rhythms inscribed in nature by the hand of the Creator. We see this, for example, in the law of the Sabbath. On the seventh day, God rested from all his work. He commanded Israel to set aside each seventh day as a day of rest, a Sabbath, (cf. Gen 2:2-3; Ex 16:23: 20:10). Similarly, every seven years, a sabbatical year was set aside for Israel, a complete rest for the land (cf. Lev. 25:1-4), when sowing was forbidden and one reaped only what was necessary to live on and to feed one’s household (cf. Lev 25: 4-6). Finally, after seven weeks of years, which is to say forty-nine years, the Jubilee was celebrated as a year of general forgiveness and ‘liberty throughout the land for all its inhabitants’ (cf. Lev 25:10). This law came about as an attempt to ensure balance and fairness in their relationships with others and with the land on which they lived and worked. At the same time, it was an acknowledgment that the gift of the earth with its fruits belongs to everyone.

How much do we rest or honor the Sabbath? How do we care for the land and the people who live on it? These are the kind of questions the Holy Father is asking us to ponder in Laudato Si’.


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