Dignity of the Human Person: God is love. Every human is created in God’s image. Every human person is a unique expression of God’s love.
Human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all of the principles of our social teaching.
Our focus point this week is:
What Does Scripture Say?
“I look up at your heavens, made by your fingers, at the moon and the stars you set in place – what is man that you should spare a thought for him, the son of man that you should care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, you have crowned him with glory and splendor, made him lord over the works of your hands, set all things under his feet . . .” (Psalm 8)
“Then the King will say to those on his right hand, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; … in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
What has the Church said over the years?
“In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged.” (Gaudium et Spes #16)
“Only in freedom can man direct himself toward goodness. Our contemporaries make much of this freedom and pursue it eagerly; and rightly to be sure. Often however they foster it perversely as a license for doing whatever pleases them, even if it is evil. For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within man. For God has willed that man remain “under the control of his own decisions…” (Gaudium et Spes #17)
What was St. Vincent’s response?
Most of us are very familiar with the fact that St. Vincent devoted his life to the service of persons who lived in dire poverty. He honored the human dignity of each person he encountered, but this response did not come automatically for the young, ambitious Vincent. He needed to set aside his own egocentric desires to embrace a life of gospel values. Vincent’s conversion story can inspire us to listen more attentively to the way God speaks through our own life experiences. To honor human dignity means that we recognize God’s activity in each person’s life.
What is our own experience?
We are a truly diverse group! We come in all shapes and sizes, personalities and dispositions. Yet we all are made by God and we all share in the life of the Divine. We see that wonderful spark of God’s life when we hold a baby. Not always so much when we behold one another as adults. Yet that spark is still in the life of every human.
What action(s) are we called to?
What has God revealed to me/us about how we are act in the world toward those who are in need? What encourages me to respond? What keeps me from acting boldly and decisively for others as St. Vincent did?
Do we use our freedom to serve our own personal interests? Or do we use it to honor our own dignity and the dignity of those we encounter?