We have a beautiful verse in the first chapter of the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Laudato Si also speaks about this aspect in detail. Probably the word subdue has gone into several forms of interpretations. The meaning of the word ‘subdue’ in an agrarian context may be much different from our scientific context.
I would like to understand it with the help of two images from the Bible. They are,
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.(John 10, 2–3)
What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast (leaven) that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough. (Luke 13, 20–21)
I think these two images give us two models which can be helpful to understand our attitude to creation, which includes everything.
The first attitude of shepherd does have a certain sense of ‘master’ mentality? But the shepherd knows the sheep by name (personal relationship). This is much different from many of us who keep animals only for trade and business. The shepherd cares for them and does understand the implicit goodness or the values of each sheep. Jesus adds another dimension to the story of sheep and shepherd when he says that he will go in search of the one which is lost (not by risking others; which reveals the importance of the one).
I find the second attitude of leaven more relevant than the first. Leaven does its beautiful work without having a triumphalistic attitude. (How different it is from us who need to take photos to document and show all our great deeds. That much might be still okay, but we go on with our triumphalistic/messianic rant for years to come). Leaven, as any other thing, might know that it is different from other items. Yes, it is special. But there is no aspect of superiority. Specialty/ uniqueness in the service of things around us. (I remember one of my philosophy classes in Pune, where one of my professors tried to distinguish between the claims of superiority and claims of uniqueness).
The feast of Divine Mercy reminds us of the shepherd who continuously cares for us and who adds different flavors to our uniqueness, which is an invitation to be leaven for the creation without an iota of triumphalism.