Often it seems that not much has changed in the past two thousand years in the history of the world. We seem to be faced with the same problems as of old. Sometimes a period which marks advances in one field or another is followed and even accompanied by setbacks in other fields of human endeavour. Indeed, sometimes as we pursue the human journey, we seem to lose our way.
However, when we reflect on the history of various cultures and nations, we are led to admit that Christianity has had a remarkable transforming effect on the history of the world. This has been so to such an extent that in many ways there can be no turning back. All we need to do is to broaden the scope of the Christian influence and promote and enact legislation which marks and delineates the transformation in human thinking.
Christianity entered a world in which there was little concept of the dignity of the human person. People had no rights but those which were given to them by the State. Values were not regarded as transcendent. They were regarded as principles which were merely adopted for the proper ordering of society. But, as such, they were disposable. There was no concept of the right for anybody to hold a government or anyone accountable for violation of his rights.
What is unique in Christianity is that all men and women are endowed with a unique dignity. They are all God's masterpiece. They are all the work of his hands. He is very proud of them.
Men and women come into a world which is blessed. It is graced with the goodness of God. He has prepared a home for them. As such, they have the right to expect all that is necessary for a decent human life. Additionally, they all have the obligation to make the world a fit place for everyone to live.
Few people realize fully the dignity which they have as persons. Indeed, that dignity makes them greater than anything in creation. It is the richest, the most beautiful thing on earth. It is because people do not recognize this truth that they look outside of themselves, seeking wealth, power, luxury, dishonest gain, sexual licentiousness and corrupting practices. All these things can never serve to fill the tremendous gap within themselves because they do not recognize their dignity.
In the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, we read: "For your name's sake spurn us not, disgrace not the throne of your glory" (Jer. 14:21).
Who could ever imagine that we are "the throne of God's glory"? And this is so not only for the rich, the mighty and celebrities but for the whole family of God, which we all are. The poor, the mentally and physically challenged, the aged, criminals, our enemies, children—even those in their mothers' womb—are all "the throne of God's glory". No one is disposable. All men and women deserve their rightful place in society.
Bearing all this in mind, the main purpose of the State is to provide all that is required for citizens to live a decent human life. In many countries, in which the Christian spirit has not yet transformed the social and political culture, often the good things of earth are provided mostly for those who are in power and their friends.
This is completely contrary to the spirit of Christianity. And this must change. The Church has been the great champion of the dignity of the human person. She calls us to respect human life from the womb to the tomb. She asks us not merely to heed the call of those who can speak out for themselves but also for those who have no voice. Yes, we must respect our women. We must respect prisoners, we must respect all those who are on the margin of society, we must respect children. Society must give more attention to the protection of children. A child is a precious gift to the world. Indeed, Mother Teresa of Calcutta tells us, "To save one child is to save the world."
Holy Scripture seeks to impress on us the great dignity that is ours, no matter who we are. "I thank you for the wonder of my being." proclaims the psalmist (Psalms 139:14).
If only we recognized our dignity, we would rejoice, we would not allow ourselves to be manipulated by anyone, we would feel empowered to direct our lives constructively, we would see ourselves as real lords and masters of our destiny. We have within us a treasure which is more valuable than anything on earth or in the sky.