Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dignity

Murillo's St. Joseph: Model for Fathers
Father’s Day reminds us that “father” or “dad” evokes many images.  When I think of my own father, I think of certain qualities he possessed in abundance (qualities that all good fathers possess): love (he tried to do his best for us), commitment, support, forgiveness (he wasn’t afraid to say he’s sorry), communication, spirituality (we went to church together).

We spent time together, and he had a good sense of humor.  All in all, my father demonstrated character for us.

Paul in his Letter to the Christian community in Galatia proclaims that we, through the gift of faith in Jesus Christ and the waters of baptism, have become sons and daughters of God our Father.   We are covered in Christ, i. e., called to reveal the “glory or presence of God” in our lives.
   
What caught "my eye" in today's Word of God was our dignity as new creatures, sons and daughters of God our Father and heirs of the kingdom of God.  In Genesis chapter 1, we read that God created us in his own image.

Every human being has an inherent dignity. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges this dignity:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We have rights, not because we're Americans, but because we're human beings.

Jackie Robinson
One person took a heroic swing for human dignity when he broke baseball's color barrier.  The film “42:  The Jackie Robinson Story” is about the player and the baseball owner who changed the sport—and America—forever.  Jackie, a decorated Army officer in WWII and a college graduate, was a talented shortstop in the Negro National League.  Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers – my hometown --- was convinced the time had come to bring a Negro player into Major League Baseball.  Rickey claimed he was doing it for business, but he later revealed to Robinson the real reason: he’d decided to take on the baseball establishment.  Robinson was drafted and made his debut as a Dodger in 1947.

Rickey – like Robinson a Christian -- had no illusions about the controversy.  He cautioned the heroic athlete, pointing him to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to work with peaceful moral character against the odious injustice of racism.  Rickey counseled Robinson, “We win if the world is convinced of two things: that you are a gentleman and a great baseball player.”

Jackie Robinson competed with skill and treated teammates and fans with respect.  He often told young audiences, “A life isn't important except in the impact it has on others.”  And he counseled: “The richest treasure anybody has, is his/her dignity.”

St. Paul, in the Word of God, asks us to strive to become persons of moral character in light of our dignity.  We were created in God's image to live a godlike life.
               
 

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