HOMILY for the 16th Sat (II)
Much is put forward in the name of human rights, and it would seem that we live in a world, which, as Blessed John Paul II says, has “a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class”. But while much is said and done about human rights and human dignity, some of the so-called rights being asserted in the name of humanity fail to take care of what is truly fundamental.
For the dignity due to Man, the reason individual human beings have inherent rights at all, is because of who Man is. Man is made in the image and likeness of God, and so he is capable of knowing and loving God, and by Christ’s grace, of being elevated to friendship with God. It is this relationship with the Creator that gives Man an inherent dignity, so that we human beings become temples of the Holy Spirit. Man is a “temple of the Lord”. So, when there is so much talk of human rights these days, it is as if one were saying: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” (Jer 7:4).
But, as Jeremiah says, these words become “deceptive” if we do not behave accordingly; if we do not act and put forward laws that underline the dignity of every human person, especially the weakest and voiceless in society. Jeremiah’s words challenge us to consider: is our society just to the stranger and refugee, to those so-called “aliens” at our borders? Do we respect our elderly – the “fatherless and the widow” – and love and care for them with real compassion and dignity until their natural death? Is ours a society that condones the shedding of “innocent blood”, the most innocent of all being the unborn child?