How do our Catholic values and principles relate to stewardship? Perhaps it would be easier to see how we live our faith through stewardship by imagining stewardship as a pyramid composed of several basic building blocks, each representing one of several key aspects. This month’s let’s reflect on two of them: the principles of human dignity and respect for human life.
Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect. This is the bedrock of Catholic Social Teaching. What does this mean for each of us? How do we treat ourselves and others, including people who look different from us? How does this principle influence our interactions in both the real world and on social media?
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life, from conception to natural death, is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Yet, in our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia, and the value of human life is threatened by cloning, embyonic stem cell research, and the death penalty. Catholic teaching also calls on us to work to avoid war, seeking ways to resolve problems through peaceful means. The intentional targeting of civilians in war or through terrorist attack is always wrong.
What can we do to demonstrate our respect for human life?
It all begins with self-respect. If we do not respect ourselves, it will be more difficult for us to respect anyone else. Respecting ourselves means recognizing our own worth and value as a human being.
How do I go about respecting myself? Here are some ways: Be honest with yourself and others, and show respect for others’ views. Value education, recognizing that knowledge is a key component of self-respect. Don’t neglect exercise or nutrition; in order to be our best, we must feel our best. Never forget that financial responsibility is a cornerstone of independence. Demonstrate good manners; your proper conduct will make you feel good about yourself and earn you the respect of others. Accept responsibility for your own actions; this includes formally apologizing for wrongdoing and striving to make amends. Learn to distinguish between family members and friends who are good influences and others who are not; emulate the good. Set important goals and make plans for reaching them; through each one, you will gain strength to challenge yourself a little more, and your self-respect will grow.
So, what does this have to do with being a disciple of Jesus Christ? As members of the Church, Jesus calls us to be disciples, and this call has astonishing implications for us. Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.
This most definitely includes recognizing the dignity and sanctity of every human life, from our own to those most different from us. Christian disciples experience conversion—life-shaping changes of mind and heart—and commit their very selves to the Lord, striving to more fully life out these principles every day.
Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live. Jesus’ disciples and Christian stewards recognize God as the origin of life, giver of freedom, and source of all things. We are grateful for the gifts we have received and are eager to use them to show our love for God and for one another. We look to the life and teaching of Jesus for guidance in living as Christian Stewards.
Thank you to Manny Aguilar, Diocesan Director for Stewardship for this article that was published in the recent edition of the Southern Cross.