Schillebeeckx and the Franciscan View of Humanity
There are many passages from the writings of the now-late theologian Edward Schillebeeckx that are worthy of reflection. One struck me the other day because it resembled the anthropological view of St. Francis of Assisi (an odd statement, I realize, to compare a great Dominican theologian to the greatest saint and founder of the Franciscans). What is at the core of the similarity between these two thinkers is the primacy of justice, integrity of creation, and solidarity as expressive of human beings living most authentically as God has intended us to live. Francis makes this most obvious in his famous Canticle of the Creatures, which demonstrates the way in which all of creation praises God by being precisely what each aspect of creation was intended to be. When he gets to humanity the goal of authentic human living is summarized in terms of peacemaking, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. When we do those things we are most human. Here is how Schillebeeckx expresses similar insight:
That human beings are the image of God means that humanity as such is God’s representative. Human beings are God’s image where and when they do justice, respect the integrity of creation, practice solidarity. It can be said that where God reigns, human beings have the right to be human. In their humanity men and women manifest the reign of God in history. And it is men and women who mediate the presence of the kingdom of God. Clearly the kingdom of God is God, the grace of God, the gratuitousness of God mediated through human beings. It is through this that anthropology and soteriology are connected (Schillebeeckx, I am a Happy Theologian, 54).
May we all continue to strive toward being most authentically human.