I. Because we make no bones about supporting the church’s teaching on life, marriage and the family, sometimes those who do not understand this teaching can become disillusioned by its clarity. Certainly, I am glad that I have a reputation for being 100% in line with the Church’s teaching, in particular, regarding the sanctity of human life, but this can sometimes ruffle some feathers of those who are more in line with the positions of our secular society.
A. I can remember an incident from my previous assignment in which one member of the community took issue with our efforts on behalf of life and the fact that we were, seemingly, so focused on the dignity and respect for human life stating. During the course of our conversation, at one point, she said to me: “I know this is your issue, but…”
II. You may expect me at this point to make the obvious rebuttal, “No. The respect for human life is not my issue, it is all of our issue,” but the point of my homily is not that.
A. The problem is not that there exists some moral imperative arbitrarily indicating that Catholics should respect the dignity of every human life.
B. The problem is that God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves. What? What do you mean by that? “God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves?”
1. We already think quite a bit of ourselves and so how could he think even more than we do?
2. Now, my point here is not that God is enthralled with all the wonderful things we do.
3. My point is not that he looks down upon us from heaven and thinks, “Wow! These are really great people. Look how they care for each other. Look what they have accomplished.”
4. On the contrary, today’s Gospel reading would seem to indicate the opposite of this:
a) “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”
b) Imagine for a moment, your boss gathering all the employees together and telling them this. “The good things you do are not due to you. All you have done is your job so be grateful you have a job.”
c) That would go over real big. Wouldn’t it?
C. So, how is it that God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves and how is this point made in the Gospel reading?
1. We tend to think our value and the value of other human beings exists in what they do. What job they have. Where they live. Who they know. How wealthy or influential they are.
2. God does not see us this way. Does he?
3. God thinks a great deal of us because he created us in his image and likeness…God thinks we have worth by the fact that we exist and he created us…pure and simple. He does not measure the quality of our life on what we can or cannot do, but who we are.
4. God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves, because as soon as we are no longer able to do…we begin to think our life has lost meaning…or quality to coin the phrase of some.
5. Yep, the life of my mother who sometimes forgets her own name has as much worth as you who run your own company…yep…that little baby I baptized last week who was five weeks premature and does nothing more than be a love sponge is worth as much as I am here preaching this homily.
6. God thinks more of us than we think of ourselves.
a) Now, when we set aside an understanding of this objective worth of the human being…a worth that does not depend on us, we begin to get confused about who we are.
b) We see this happening all over our nation and world. Don’t we? Those who have abandoned an understanding that they are created in “the image and likeness of God, male and female, he created them,” begin to get confused about their identity. Who they are and in what happiness consists? Hence, our identity becomes fluid and dependant on us creating ourselves.
c) How many times have politicians recreated themselves or evolved as some say?
d) We even believe now that our own personal identity…male or female…has value based not on how God created us but on how we can recreate ourselves.
D. Certainly, formation and education are incredibly important and can contribute not only to our own welfare but also the welfare of society, but the very core of our identity…the heart of who we are…the whole of who we are…is not something that depends on us, because we did not create ourselves…in fact, there were four people there when you were created and you were the late comer to that process. If you do not know who those four people are…two were your parents, one is God and the last one on the scene was you.
1. The problem is that our understanding of the human person, influences everything we do in our lives from the moment we get up in the morning until we go to sleep and even where we sleep; however, there is a great deal of confusion today about the human person…what a human person is and their purpose is.
2. We hear people speak of the human person and human beings as if they were two different things.
a) This is why we have the laws we do in this country which do not recognize those who do not yet have or have lost their functionality in society.
b) You see the term “Human being” is often used to express the biological reality of our existence but is divorced from the existence of a human person defined by their experiences and functionality. A person who is able to contribute to society may be a human being but is not a human person…as if your humanity and your personhood could be divorced from one another. This division allows all types of attacks on the dignity of human beings.
c) This is why we have Roe V. Wade
d) This is why we have euthanasia.
e) This is why we are confused about gender identity.
3. This, however, is not simply not the Catholic view, it is not the logical view. The human being and the human person are coextensive…they are the same. A human being does not begin being a person when they are seven years old and cease being a person when sick or elderly.
III. The importance of this point cannot be understated. The human person is not something separate from the human being. We are not two things at different times in our lives. We are human from the moment we are conceived and then for all eternity.
A. When the human person is separated from the human being as such, we begin to think that the dignity of the human being arises not from their existence but from their ability to perform certain tasks or engage in certain activities.
1. We often hear this expressed when we begin talking about quality of life. A person’s quality of life is defined by what they can do not who they are.
B. When this distinction is made, this is when the existence of the human person becomes pragmatic. The value of a human person begins to be measured not by their objective worth as a human being but by their worth to others around them…can they still take trips, go shopping, work or make others around them feel good about themselves.
C. When we begin thinking silly things like, “it is better for a human being to be killed prior to entering the world because their life will likely be difficult or they will start life with a disadvantage,” then we know we have fallen into the trap.
IV. How is this exemplified in the Gospel passage we just heard?
A. When our Lord tells his disciples that they should say to themselves, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do,” we must remember who a servant of the Lord is.
B. A servant of the Lord is one who has been created in God’s image and likeness and so it pertains to that servant to be like God…Jesus is not asking his disciples to be anything that he is not already nor do anything that he has not done himself and more completely….what he is saying to them, to us, is be who I created you to be…be like me…live, think and act according to the nature with which I created you.
C. God, indeed, thinks more of us than we think of ourselves, because we more often act not according to the manner in which he has created us but according to a secular norm that tries to make us less than we are…make us animals who are completely motivated exclusively by our base desires and who cannot think beyond ourselves and beyond our sight. We should not demean others by thinking they can only live and act according to an animal nature.
D. And, the measure by which God measures in a very high measuring stick itself…He does not tell us, “No. You cannot put a child up for adoption. No. You cannot care for an aging parent personally and daily. No. You must do all you can to hasten another’s death by depriving them of basic necessities.
V. My friends, there is no doubt that our salvation does not lie in politics, but our salvation does lay in the love of an all-merciful Father who, through his Church, tries desperately to show His people the life for which they were created. My friends, if this is all just “my issue,” then we are all in big trouble.