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Monday, 29 March 2021 08:51

THE DESTINY OF A HUMAN BEING

In the pandemic, the time of Lent gives us again a great opportunity to ask questions about a person, about his/her identity as a human being. It’s the time of getting out of our zones of comfort and accommodating our plans. We are also continuously pushed to take human limitations and fragility into account which can be seen in all aspects of our lives. At the same time, we cannot stop and wrap ourselves up unable to see the critical events happening in and to our planet that we were given to be responsible for. In his message for Lent 2021 Pope Francis encourages us to “undertake it in the simplicity of heart to rediscover God’s gift and to recognize that, created in his image and likeness, we find our fulfilment in him” (No 1.). Is a person free or is he/she programmed by God? This is a question that we have been asking since ever.

The identity of a person,  not only in this time of a global crisis but in all times, is understood as belonging to something that is common to all of us. We are all human beings, everyone can call him/herself a human. However, immediately comes another question – is it enough to remain a human being or do I have to become a human being?

The philosophers of the 20th century, after the Industrial Revolution, started to see a man as a being that is thrown into a natural order of the world, as something artificial. Some psychological thoughts underline that it is a positive moment when a person leaps from the natural evolution into an artificial evolution, chosen from various possibilities and programmed to arrive at a particular aim.

In the Enlightenment, humanism saw a person as somebody who can create his or her destiny. However, even if a person was not particularly delighted of being created by a Higher Creator, he/she saw in God the reason and aim to overcome their natural limitations. Biblical and Christian anthropology talk about the vocation of a man. He/she has an image of God inside themselves and is called to make it real in their lives “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13) because “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10).

In the times of wars and pandemics at the turn of the Medieval and the Enlightenment Saint Catherine of Siena saw in human liberty a great opportunity. It gives a man the possibility "to become God, and God to become a person" (Dialogue, 15). However, she also sees it as a danger to a man that can separate him/herself from the project given by God to follow his/her narcissistic ideas that enable him/her "to make a god of him/herself" (Dialogue, 33). The same idea can be found in the book of Harari, Homo Deus (2015). The author claims that we, people of the 21st century, live in the world virtually free from pandemics, in prosperity and peace, and we use more and more powerful tools to realize ancient ambitions to lift humanity in the level of gods, to leap Homo Sapiens into Homo Deus.

Nowadays we can see more and more discrepancy between technological possibilities and global dangers, that influence all societies. Modern science gives us the tools not only to diagnose the causes and evaluate the risks but also to plan and implicate new solutions. Particular interests, though, too often obscure the idea to work for the common good. The Pope underlines the urge to stay in guard as “it is easy to fall prey to an unbalanced and arrogant anthropocentrism”, and “the “I” at the centre of everything, which overinflates our role as human beings, positioning us as absolute rulers of all other creatures” is auto-destructive (General Audience, 16.09.2020).

It was already the Vatican Council II that made it clear where should be the role of a human being in front of the unbalanced progress: “the modern world shows itself at once powerful and weak, capable of the noblest deeds or the foulest; before it lies the path to freedom or to slavery, to progress or retreat, to brotherhood or hatred. Moreover, man is becoming aware that it is his responsibility to guide aright the forces which he has unleashed and which can enslave him or minister to him” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 9).

We need to raise awareness about this responsibility. It is an urgent and demanding thing. Even these days, where it seems that hope is only a mere emotional consolation, Christian anthropology can offer non only the illusory point of view. In the book of Genesis (1, 26) a man receives work to do – he has to take care of the world. God has His plan and He invites a man to fulfil it. He knows us, He knows our destiny and sees it from a longer perspective. We are called “to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:11-12).

The idea of destiny seems to be in the opposition to the ontological view of a human being. A person is not determined, and as such can fulfil his/her liberty. The texts of Saint Paul, at least in the Greek version, consider destiny as an aim that is proposed by the Creator to His free creature. It gives the right direction that helps a man to follow the path to fulfil who he/she really is. Lent, which brings us closer to the mystery of Easter can be seen as a metaphor for the life of each human being. Christ that raised shows us the archetype of a human. We can see Him in the faces of people that we meet every day, not only Christians. He is the example of who we should become. It remains as a work to do, that is left to our liberty.
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About Us

Union “St. Catherine of Siena” of School Missionaries is a Dominican Religious Congregation.
We are called to accompany our contemporaries along their path with study and prayer and to seek along with them Gospel’s answers to the questions of our complex, multicultural society.
We want to live therefore coherently a Christianity of frontiers and be yeast and salt of the least visibility yet cause to leaven and give flavor.  
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