I will make a covenant with the wild animals, the birds of the air and the creeping things on the ground. Hosea 2: 17, 18
When Jesus commands us to love our neighbours, he does not only mean our human neighbours; he means all the animals and birds, insects and plants, amongst whom we live. Just as we should not be cruel to other human beings, so we should not be cruel to any species of creature. Just as we should love and cherish other human beings, so we should love and cherish all God’s creation.
We learn to love other human beings by discerning their pleasure and pain, their joy and sorrow, and by sympathising with them. We need only poke a horse with a sharp stick to discern the pain it can suffer; and when we stroke and slap that same horse on the neck, we can feel its pleasure. Thus we can love a horse in the same way we can love another human being. Of course, our love for other species is less full and less intense than our love for humans, because the range and depth of their feelings are less than our own. Yet we should remember that all love comes from God, so when our love is directed towards an animal or even a tree, we are participating in the fulness of God’s love.
Pelagius To an elderly friend.
Encompass each goat, sheep and lamb,
Each cow and horse and store
Surround the flocks and herds
And look after them in a kindly fold
Father, bless the pet
also bless the vet.
Saviour, bless the flock
also bless the cock.
Spirit, bless the horse
also bless my course.