Environmental Justice in the Bible

Presented by the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center


Christian Scripture



...and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove... (Matthew 3:16)

[Note the following classic temptations in the Gospel: the lure of consumerism ("bread"), arrogance ("throw yourself down"), and power ("kingdoms") are the basis of much sin against the environment.]   

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.  The tempter approached and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread."  He said in reply, "It is written: 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.' "  Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down...."  Jesus answered him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.' "  Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, "All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me."  At this Jesus said to him, "Get away, Satan!  It is written: 'The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.' " (Matthew 4:1-11) 


...the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen. (Matthew 4:16)

"Look at the birds in the sky.  They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them."  (Matthew 6:26)

"...your will be done, on earth as in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)

"Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them.  How much more important are you than birds!" (Luke 12:24)





"Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.  They do not work or spin.  But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them."  (Matthew 6:28-29)








"Notice how the flowers grow.  They do not toil or spin.  But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?" (Luke 12:27-28)

"Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge."  (Matthew 10:28-29)

When he saw the crowds, he went up to the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.  He began to teach them, saying:

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,

for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for

the sake of righteousness,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.



In these days he went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God.  (Luke 6:12)

And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46)       

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow."  And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.  It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.  Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.  But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. (Matthew 13:3-8)




For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us!  We are perishing!"  And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?" (NRSV Matthew 8:23-27)

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"  (Mark 4:41)

He said to them, "Where is your faith?"  They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?" (NRSV Luke 8:25)

And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!"  And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." (NRSV Matthew 14:25-27)





They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. (Acts 10:39)



Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.  So they laid Jesus there.... (John 19:41)

He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)

The heavens are my throne, the earth is my footstool.  What kind of house can you build for me? says the Lord, or what is to be my resting place?  Did not my hand make all these things?  (Acts 7:49-50)

We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, "who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them."  (Acts 14:15)

Yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.  (Acts 14:17)






I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.  For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.  (Romans 8:18-22)










Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.  (Rev 4:11)

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: "To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." (Rev 5:13)

The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for the dead to be judged, and to recompense your servants, the prophets, and the holy ones and those who fear your name, the small and the great alike, and to destroy those who destroy the earth. (Rev 11:18)




A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with child... (Rev 12:1-2)


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth... The one who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." (Rev 21:1 and 21:5)



Most Scriptural excerpts from The New American Bible, copyright © 1970

 (including the Revised New Testament © 1986).  All rights reserved.

Photograph of Dogwood ( Cornus florida ) © John Shaw/Natural History Photographic Agency


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