Catholic Social Teaching Homilies Life and Dignity of the Human Person

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Today, our Scriptures give us the second story of the creation of humanity. Yesterday, we had the story of the creation of humanity in the context of the creation of everything else. Humanity was the apex of God’s creation, and it was only after the creation of man and woman that God was able to rest. Today we have the creation of specifically man, because the woman will be created in what we hear tomorrow. Today’s glimpse of the creation of humanity gives us the basis for another great Catholic Social Teaching: The life and dignity of the human person. Men, and women, were created good and originally intended for life in heaven on earth, represented by the Garden of Eden. Of course, things don’t stay that way, and we will hear more about that on Friday.

But this respect for life and the dignity of all men and women comes right from this Scripture reading. Every person in the world was created good, created to be a reflection of God himself. Because of this we have no right to treat life carelessly and must take a stand against abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, racism, poverty, homelessness, inadequate access to health care, and so much more. Pope John Paul II, of happy memory, was a tireless preacher against what he called the “culture of death” in our world. The way to create a culture of life is to promote it one heart, one life at a time. Each of us must treasure every human life, because God himself gave that person life and breath.

Interestingly, Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel reading of the source of our culture of death. Listen again:

“But what comes out of the person, that is what defiles him.
From within the person, from the heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The call to respect the life and dignity of the human person is a call for each of us to search our hearts for every fragment of these evils in us, and to ruthlessly root them out of ourselves wherever we find them.