Fr. John Burger

From the Director

By Fr. John Burger

Have you ever thought about whether you have a philosophy of life? For most people it would probably sound pretentious to say you have one. But whether we are conscious of it or not, most of us so live according to a set of values that guide what we do and how we do it.

For example, we can agree that to exist is a valuable thing. We haven’t committed suicide and want that person in the ambulance to make it to the emergency room, so we pull our car out of the way.

We Americans grew up hearing these “self-evident” lines from the Declaration of Independence, “We hold … that all men are created equal,” and we know that this implies that treating people with equal dignity is doing the creator’s will.

We know that for human beings, growth requires time and effort. Our parents and to some extent our teachers put in the effort in the early years, but gradually each human person takes over the decision making about his or her human development toward becoming all we can be.

I think most of us know instinctively that our relationships with our fellow men and women are what make us truly human. We are social creatures and others and their reactions to us are not just important to us, they make us who we are.

Of course, we have another major dimension to our identity, we are created in God’s own image. This reality is summed up succinctly and beautifully in Genesis 1:27.

“God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female – he created them.”

This Divine image describes our unique awareness and rationality. That we are made by God in the image of God enriches and expands our nature. Indeed, we differ from the animals in that we have some of God’s own qualities. We search out and reflect on joy, truth, justice, beauty, and meaning. Our personality can relate to God’s person in ways that other created beings cannot. That point underpins God’s interaction with humans throughout the Bible and should underpin our respect for each other. In the letter of St. James, for example, cursing another is not to be done precisely because we are made in God’s image. (James 3:9)

We search out and reflect on joy, truth, justice, beauty, and meaning.

For the Christian, the person of Jesus Christ is the one model and teacher that we should emulate above all others. Certainly, we can learn from the saints and great historical figures, but we Christians, if we are to be worthy of the name, need to make Jesus’ way our way. His sermon on the mount, should be on our minds and in our hearts.

As limited human persons, whatever we do in life, each of us should offer a “living sacrifice” of him or herself to the Creator, the God who made us. Worship is not merely an emotion, it is more about a recognition of who God is. Only God and I know what goes on in my heart.

If the things mentioned in these few paragraphs are what characterize your way of life, I admire your philosophy of life.