I. Moral Agent: The Human Person
Christian moral life is simply the call to become loving persons, in the fullness of life-with-others-in-community before God, in imitation of Jesus Christ. The key to moral life, then, is the human person, considered in the light of both reason and faith. All human rights, personal and social, all moral duties and responsibilities, all virtues and moral character __ all depend directly on the answers we give to the questions: who am I as a person in community? as a disciple of Jesus Christ, in his Church? In the words of PCP II: “How to live as Filipino Christians in our situation of lights and shadows”? (PCP II 35)
This “sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man” (DH 1). “The inviolable dignity of every human person. . . is the most precious possession of an individual, [whose] value comes not from what a person ‘has’ as much as from what a person ‘is’ ” (CL 37). “Hence the pivotal point of our total presentation will be the human person, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will” (GS 3). But just who or what IS the human person according to reason and Christian Faith?
Persons in Christ. For Christians, the answer can only be grounded on Jesus Christ himself. “In Christ and through Christ, we have acquired full awareness of our dignity, of the heights to which we are raised, of the surpassing worth of our own humanity, and of the meaning of our existence” (RH 11). “For by his incarnation, the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every person” (GS 22).
Christ reveals how the essential dignity of all persons is grounded directly on their origin, meaning and destiny. We believe all persons are created by God in His image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26) through our Lord Jesus Christ, “through whom everything was made and through whom we live” (1 Cor 8:6). We believe all are redeemed by the blood of Christ (cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:14), and are sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14-16; 1 Cor 6:19). We believe all persons are called to be children of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:1), destined for eternal life of blessed communion with the Father, His Risen-Incarnate Son, and their Holy Spirit (cf. CCC 1692).
But, despite their firm belief in these basic truths of the Christian Faith, many Catholics do not realize how these truths touch their day-to-day moral attitudes, acts and choices. Only if these credal truths are linked directly with the Filipinos’ experience of themselves as persons, will they influence their moral living. Hence, we have to relate these Christian truths to the common experience of “being a Filipino person.” Although we tend to take these characteristics of our own person for granted, we nevertheless need to become more conscious of them to gain a true knowledge of self and of our relationships to others and to God.
II. Persons in Experience
Persons are open and relational by nature. No man is an island; we grow into our full selves as persons only in relating to others. We Filipinos are outstanding in this regard: it is said “Filipinos are never alone.” We realize being a person means being by others (our conception, birth, upbringing), being with others (our family, friends, neighbors, business associates), and being for others (love, service). This is how we have been created by God __ as social beings. This is how we have been redeemed by Christ __ as a people. This is how the Holy Spirit works not only within but among us as the people of God, journeying toward our common destiny in God.
Persons are conscious beings, aware of themselves in their outgoing acts. We possess this self-awareness through our knowing and free willing (cf. CCC 1704-7; GS 14-17). Thus we “image” in our small way the Creator’s infinite knowing and loving. This is the basis for...
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