Probably at some time, we have all had the experience of being inspired by a speaker’s words. Perhaps their passion, depth of knowledge, insight, or how they expressed some life wisdom touched a chord deep within us. Maybe it occurred to us, “I never thought this way before.” Our way of thinking experienced a conversion.
The middle grandson has been studying the Commandments in Religious Education class. His parent asked him for an example. He immediately answered, “Don’t steal your neighbor!” In his eagerness to respond, he omitted the preposition “from your neighbor.”
As I thought more about it, how he expressed it pointed to a moral truth. We are to respect property rights and also each other’s integrity, freedom, value, and dignity.
Awareness of our humanity, created in God’s image, should transform all the ways we are with each other, not just what we own but also who we are.
The social justice principle of Life and Dignity of the Human Person from Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that this fundamental human value is God-given. “Know that the LORD is God, he made us, we belong to him...” (Psalm 100:3).
We are created out of love, and love guides how we should treat each other, every human, all the time – to care actively about the good of one another. The Lord calls us to treasure the dignity of every human person. Gifted by our Creator, our dignity cannot be taken away, yet we know many examples, historical and in our time, where human dignity is violated or ignored.
Our life in family offers thousands of opportunities to teach each other how immensely valuable we are. Parents and guardians, in countless ways, witness to their children how to respect, care, and love within all life’s relationships. It is easy to do when we are likable and arduous when we are not. By faith, we make it our task, whether easy or difficult.
Jesus, in His proclamation of God’s reign, challenged His listeners to be actively engaged in God’s purpose – in love, forgiveness, and service to one another. God’s grace empowers us to be better, think in a new way, and to repent (Mark 1:15).
As we look forward to Lent, let us pray in our families to be open to the grace of conversion, to be increasingly aware of how God’s Spirit calls us to cherish each other’s dignity.