Every renter and landlord knows the meaning of “security deposit.” A security deposit holds people accountable for damages, excessive wear and tear, unpaid rent, etc.

The landlord asks for a deposit against those things. Renters realize there is a cost if the landlord’s property is not properly cared for.

Such deposits are especially important for summer rentals at the beach. Many groups, young and not so young, seem to think they have little responsibility for undue wear and tear caused by heavy partying.

So, let me ask… Since God created “our” earth for us, what if God had asked for a security deposit against damages?

Have we misunderstood Genesis 1:28?

Are we owners or renters?

The Book of Genesis said

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 

Without much thought, we tend to emphasize “subdue and have dominion.”

But the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2415) reminds us that

“dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”

What would God find if God were to examine our care for the Earth? Would God see that we have been faithful stewards? Or, would God be shocked at a neglectful approach to our responsibility?

A reckoning of our stewardship

Would God see faithful stewards… or ungrateful and irresponsible stewards.

An increasing number of people are beginning to see evidence of irresponsibility.

We witness deforestation, pollution, the destruction of natural habitats, and the adverse effects of climate change. The consequences of our actions have left scars on the Earth, hindering the flourishing of life and perpetuating injustice.

Our disregard for the interconnectedness of all life has led to imbalances in ecosystems and the loss of countless species. The depletion of natural resources and the exploitation of the Earth’s treasures have disrupted the delicate harmony of creation.

The brokenness of our security deposit is evident in the widening gap between the affluent and the marginalized, who bear the brunt of environmental degradation.

In the context of our common home, the Earth, the concept of a security deposit prompts us to reflect on the measures we must take to ensure its preservation.

The Vincentian Question

More and more followers of St. Vincent are asking his famous question… “What must I do?”

Our task demands more than just seeing. It calls for doing.

It requires a collective effort and a commitment to faithful stewardship. As people of faith, we are uniquely called to take a stand for ecological justice and sustainable practices.

Restoring the deposit begins with recognizing the intrinsic value of all creation and embracing a reverence for life.

It involves

  • Recognizing that our choices have consequences
  • Transforming our lifestyles and attitudes,
  • Prioritizing sustainable practices, such as conserving energy, reducing waste, and advocating for policies that protect the environment.

No wonder Pope Francis calls for an

“ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.

Laudato Si (219)

What would you think of our stewardship if you were God?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.