recognition of the
freedom, justice and peace in the world,
rights of all members of the
Whereas
the equal and inalienable
inherent dignity and of
human family is the foundation of
The
Universal
Declaration of
Human Rights
All human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights. They are
endowed with reason and conscience
and should act towards one another in
a spirit of brotherhood.
Article One
Jesus’ idea of freedom is more in line, I believe, with that seen in the constitution of
communist Russia  rather than that of the United States.  Jesus’ instructions in Mark 10:17-
25 to the rich man to sell all his belongings and distribute the money to the poor certainly
leads one in the direction of concluding that Jesus, at the very least, does not put individual
rights over the well being of the community.  Jesus does not in any shape or form condemn
the man for being rich, but asks him to sacrifice his wealth for the sake of the wider
community (and also to enable him to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven). This action of Jesus
leads me to believe that Jesus would concur with the words of Mr. Ribnikar of Yugoslavia
in 1947: “It becomes quite obvious that this common interest is more important than the
individual interest, and that man can liberate himself only when the mass of a population is
free” (Maraitain 132).+++
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When you think of your experience of Jesus—in scripture, the
sacraments, in your prayer life, and in the tradition of the church:
—What suggests that we are all born free?
—What suggests that we are equal in dignity and rights?
—Does Jesus ever appeal to reason or conscience?
In your view, does Article One of the Declaration:
—Emphasize rights but not duties?
—Value the individual above the community?
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
(continued from previous page)
Angel added this comment:
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus answers the Pharisees’ question that the first and greatest
commandment is to love God, but the second is very much similar, and insists that we
should love our neighbors as we do ourselves.  I believe that in his answer, Jesus shows no
distinction on how we should treat and love others differently, but on the contrary, he
implies that there is already an equal level of value among humans, hence, an innate attribute
which reveals that we all deserve the same standard of dignity and rights.  This also
resonates well with the belief that we should conduct ourselves in the spirit of brotherhood
found in Article 1.  I believe that Article 1 also alludes to Genesis 1:27, in that we are
created in the image of God.  God is a divine being that reasons and has a conscience,
which reflects the image of every human being.

I grew up in a home where my parents had very little education and religion.  However,
through tradition, they instilled in us the responsibility of freedom, and treated me, my
brother and sister with the same equality, with no distinction for age or gender.  I also feel
that the capacity for reason that God has given me came imbedded with a sense of equal
treatment for all other people.  I grew up in California, where there was a multifarious
variety of ethnicities and backgrounds, but never did I consider either group better or less
significant than the other.  As far as my spiritual experience, I have learned that people can
twist the bible completely, and abuse the rights and dignity that we all have and deserve.  In
consequence, I feel that true Christians should be at the forefront of Human Rights
movements and fighting for equality among all beings.+++
Click here to comment+++
James said:
The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes a startling claim that
many readers may pass over. Far from a statement of rights neglecting duties, the first
article asserts that all humans are entitled to the same rights and as such must be treated as
equals, in a spirit of brotherhood. The obligations of this statement that we treat all humans
as equal in dignity are consistently supported in Jesus’ life ministry. Jesus consistently
acted to dignify those whom he met, even as they were sick or sinners.

Jesus took care to eat with sinners, dignifying their homes with his presence. He also
stooped to wash the feet of his disciples, becoming servant of all and thereby elevating his
disciples to his equals, and serving as the example for their fellowship. As he is washing
their feet, Jesus also calls his disciples “friends” and tells them “if I, your Lord and
Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to was one another’s feet” (NRSV, Jn 13:
14). In this way, Jesus models our obligation to show dignity to one another. The tradition
of the early church upheld this dignity by sharing in a love feast.

Paul advises the Corinthians that all must eat together in this feast regardless of social class.
This tradition has been brought down to us through the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,
where weekly services allow young and old, rich and poor, exalted and lowly to eat
together in celebration that Christ died equally for each. Through the sacrament of the Lord’
s Supper, the church fulfills the command of Jesus that when invited to a banquet, we
should take the lowest place to give honor to those around us (Luke 14). We also affirm
our responsibility, set out in the first article, to affirm the equal dignity and brotherhood we
share with all human beings.+++
Click here to comment+++
The spirit of brotherhood stands out here, reminding me of the brotherhood of Christians
and of all mankind.  This article brings up the verses “Love your neighbor as yourself” and
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen 1:26 RSV),
suggesting an inherent equality.

These verses and sentiments make sense together: We are called to love each other, which
is the action part of the end of the article, because we are all made in God’s image, which
gives a relationship to all of humankind.  God loves all of us and thus we are called to love
and remember we are all children of God. Loving each other is part of the duty we have in
how we should act towards each other “in a spirit of brotherhood.”  The individual may be
valued more on the surface, but if every individual is taken into account, considering all,
then the community is also considered, for a community is made up of the individuals and
the individuals are part of a community.+++
Click here to comment+++
Annie added...
We have been worthy of dignity, respect, and rights because we are intentionally and
equally created in the same image of God, who wants us to have reason, conscience, and
moral freedom (Genesis 1:27). Ideally, we are endowed with dignity, potentiality, reason,
and freedom. Nobody has the right to oppress his or her fellow humans. Indeed, we are
one body in Christ (Romans: 12:5).

Jesus also said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). In
fact, God is a God of freedom. He wants everyone to be free from oppression of all forms
and violation of all kinds. In reality, our inborn rights are not conferred by any judicial or
political process nor can they be removed by these or other means. I strongly believe that
Jesus appeals to reason, as well as conscience, as illustrated by a number of parables he
used during his ministry.

To me, Article 1 places more emphasis on rights than on duties, nonetheless “act towards
one another in a spirit of brotherhood” bears to a certain degree the meaning of duty. Article
1 emphasizes the individual. In summary, we should make a commitment to respect life and
dignity, individuality and diversity, so that every person is treated humanely.
+++
Click here to comment+++
Salai offered these comments:
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Jesus Christ is the model par excellence of a new, liberated humanity (Ruether 1993: 137),
the radical incarnation of the egalitarian vision and “spirit of brother- and sisterhood” that
this Universal Declaration of Human Rights attempts to elucidate. Like the Eucharist which
bears the memory of his sacrifice and the Last Supper which encompassed the fateful
offering of the cup and bread, Jesus Christ is the representation of a community of equals
wherein the value hierarchy of the world via table-fellowship practices is subverted through
voluntary acts of self-kenosis.

By washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-17), Jesus shows us how even the greatest,
most respected political or religious figure (even a “Son of God” among mere mortals!) is
the same as a lowly servant, peasant, and slave; or, in the words of the Universal
Declaration, they are alike “equal in dignity and rights.” By sharing his “body” and “blood”
with his disciples (Luke 22:17-20), Jesus shows us the meaning of his greatest sacrifice, a
radically egalitarian community meant to form around the open commensality (i.e. equal
distribution of nourishment, property, and burdens) of the kingdom of the peasant’s God
(Crossan 1995: 66).
Josiah said:
Return to Previous Page
Sam said:
In gloomy times of bloody confusion
Ordered disorder
Planful willfulness
Dehumanized humanity
When there is no end to the unrest in our cities:
Into such a world, a world like a slaughterhouse—
Summoned by rumors of threatening deeds of violence
To prevent the brute strength of the short-sighted people
From shattering its own tools and
Trampling its own bread-basket to pieces—
We wish to reintroduce
God.

A figure of little glory,
Almost of ill repute,
No longer admitted
To the sphere of actual life:
But, for the humblest, the one salvation!
Therefore we have decided
To beat the drum for Him
That He may gain a foothold in the regions of misery
And His voice may ring out clearly among
the slaughterhouses
And this undertaking of ours is surely
The last of its kind. A last attempt
To set Him upright again in a crumbling
world, and that
By means of the lowest
                                             (Brecht 1931)
+++
Click here to comment+++
“Then the Lord said to Cain, where is your brother Abel? He said, I do not know; am I my
brother’s keeper? And the Lord said, what have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is
crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen. 4:9-10) From the beginning of the scriptural
witness, humanity is created from the same thing and by the same creator, all are
responsible for the other. To vivify this history in one’s own life would require a
recognition of the shared nature and responsibility all have toward one another. If it is God
who gives life, then as followers we must respect and preserve that.
+++
Click here to comment+++
Sean said:
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