As we look forward to celebrating the Fourth of July, Independence Day, I thought I would offer a reflection on human dignity. I consider this a fundamental right of human beings and certainly a core piece of who we are and what we believe in as citizens of the United States.
Human Dignity - “Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if, you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.” Luke 6:31-33
Jesus was speaking to that very human tendency to care about those whose lives are intertwined with our own. However, to be a follower of Jesus means that our love must be bigger. We are called to love as God loves, seeing all of humanity as our brothers and sisters—the embodiment of Jesus among us. That demands more of us than we can probably achieve in this lifetime—even the great saints seemed to miss the mark sometimes. But that doesn’t excuse us from a lifetime of trying.
The key principal of Catholic social teaching is that, because they are created in the image of God, all humans have dignity and deserve to be treated as children of God. The consistent application of this very basic belief drives our outreach wherever human life is threatened.
Because we are human, our feelings towards others are often influenced by people whose opinions we value. But as Christians, there can be no difference in the value of the life of an unborn child, that child’s mother, a prisoner on death row, a family crossing our southern border to find safety and a better life, a subsistence farmer struggling to survive the droughts, floods and rising sea waters caused by climate change, a Yemeni child killed by weapons our country has sold to Saudi Arabia, an African American still struggling against the oppression of racism, or a young undocumented farm worker who puts food on our tables, but lives in fear and isolation. Our hearts need to be big enough for all even when we don’t have easy answers for the political dilemmas their struggles present.
Many of these humans are not visible to us in our daily lives, but Jesus’ words are a reminder that love cannot be tied to family or social groups or even national boundaries. Who will you love today? Who will be harmed by our inability to see as Jesus did?
I realize these may be considered by some to be tough words, but they are only to remind all of us we are very blessed to be living a Country that allows an endless list of freedoms and privileges. Freedoms and privileges we are called to fully live and share as Christians.
Let us continue to pray for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,