HOMILY FOR MARCH 6, 2022: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
LET MY PEOPLE GO: THE SACRED DIGNITY OF PERSONS
Eternal God, creator and sustainer of life,
Bless me with the courage to defend all life from conception to natural death.
Bless me with the strength to respect all peoples
from east to west, from north to south,
so that I may truly follow the call of Jesus to be a neighbor to all.
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
Every Human Being was Created with God’s Holy Spirit
- In Michelangelo’s Creation of the Human Person God touches his finger to the finger tip of the first human person. Figuratively the spark of the divine entered the human person at that touch between the divine and the human.
- God breathed God’s Holy Spirit into a lifeless lump of dirt and the first human being was created.
Every Human Person is Equal in the Eyes of God
- In the Creation Accounts in the Book of Genesis, the Hebrew word adamah is translated as earth creature.
- Gender identity was not designated until after the second earth creature was created. God created them, male and female God created them.
- As their genders were assigned at the same time, man and woman are of equal dignity.
Every Human Being is Made in the Image of God
- You and I are created in the image and likeness of God.
- Deeply ingrained in the human heart is an inherent sense of the sacred dignity of one another.
- Moses’ heart was broken open when he witnessed the brutal treatment of his fellow kinsmen, under the iron fist of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
- The Lord heard the cries of his people and, with Moses’ guidance, led them to the Promised Land where each one of them was treated with tenderness and reverence.
Every Human Being is Loved Unconditionally by God
- People can never be treated as objects.
- Human dignity cannot be divided into categories, as if we are all boarding a jet: first class, business class, and coach.
- Wealth and status do not determine human dignity.
- Nothing a person might do, no matter how horrifying, can cancel his or her sacred dignity as a precious daughter or son of God.
Every Human Being is Precious in the Eyes of God
- Every person has a name and is precious.
- We affirm the preciousness of every human life from conception to natural death.
- Sacred human dignity is not parceled out, but poured abundantly upon every person.
Every Human Being is God’s Favorite
The Venerable Servant of God, Dorothy Day was engaged in a spirited discussion with one of the guest residents of the Catholic Worker House when a prominent academic came to visit. As the visitor stood in the corridor waiting to speak with her, Ms Day continued her conversation with the mentally disturbed woman until, finally, she turned to the stranger and asked, “Did you wish to speak with her or with me?”
- This beautiful impartiality is the hallmark of the Christian community. How can the Church witness to Jesus if we ignore those who are vulnerable or who always feel they are on the margins?
- In the early Church, Saint James cautioned communities about giving in to the temptation of falling down before the rich and giving them special treatment.
Every Human Being Carries the Divine Spark
Once upon a time a Sufi made the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It was a long walk for him, and the sun was high. He had come miles without stopping. Finally, in sight of the great mosque at Mecca, sure of the goal now, the old man lay down in the road to rest. Suddenly one of the other pilgrims shook him awake, rough and harsh in the doing of it. “Wake up,” he commanded. “You blaspheme, Sufi! You lie in such a way that your feet are pointed toward the holy mosque! What kind of Sufi are you?” The old Sufi opened one eye, smiled, and said, “I thank you, holy sir. Now would you be kind enough to turn my feet in some direction where they are not pointed toward God?”
- God is everywhere and God points out to you and me God’s dignity in every person!
- Let us bear in our hearts that image of the Creation of the Person on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, recognizing the spark of the divine in every person!
Questions for Reflection (feel free to ask whatever questions seem to generate conversation)
- What in the homily moved you or challenged you?
- In whom is it easy to see God’s image?
- Are there people who you struggle to believe are made in God’s image? Why?
Love Compels Action
- This week how can you live out this call to ensure that every person’s life and dignity is respected?
- How can we do that as a family at St. Mary Parish