Homily of Archbishop Anton Stres
your Excellency, Apostolic Nuncio in the Republic of Slovenia,
dear Brother Bishops,
your Excellencies Ambassadors and representatives of amicable countries,
representatives of state authorities as well as representatives of political, commercial and cultural life,
dear sisters and brothers:
At this mass for our home country at its 20th anniversary, Jesus’ well-known parable about two men building their house upon different foundations invites us to reflect upon the foundations of the house called the Republic of Slovenia. The consolidation of a state can be compared to building a house. The state is also a kind of home since its basic task is to keep safe its inhabitants, it is a refuge for those who are endangered by the violence of their fellow men and look for justice and peace, it is a refuge for those who, due to their weakness, need special care and solidarity.
Jesus warns against the foolishness of the man building his house on sand and recommends the wisdom of the one giving it solid foundations, building on the rock.
The rock withstands storms and earthquakes. Crises and trials show how solid the foundations are. A house built on a rock can stand up to rain and tempests. On the other hand, the image of sand is an image of poor resistance. Sand is unreliable and gives under our feet. Sand itself easily falls victim to wind and rain, today it can be found in a place and tomorrow it disappears. Sand destroys life and creates a desert. It is an image of unsteadiness and transitoriness.
Every community, also a political one, is built upon common values. Not just upon interests, but upon values. Interests are like sand, today they exist and tomorrow they are carried away by the first wind of change. Interests are transitory, they depend on the circumstances and on the moment, they are like the needs that dictate them. Values are more than just interests because also the desires and strivings for these values run deeper. They are connected with the basic value of the dignity of the human person. The dignity of any human person is the basic value, the value of values and all other values come from it, serve this dignity and guarantee it.
Real values, values that deserve this name, are not temporary and transitory, but are permanent, timeless and unconditional, in the same way as the dignity of the human person is permanent, timeless and unconditional. Man is created in God’s own image. This human dignity was confirmed, in a unsurpassable manner, by the Son of God, who Himself became a man and, by His death and resurrection, saved this dignity and strengthened it for all eternity. Permanent and basic values connected with human dignity are based in God Himself.
Among the basic tasks dictated to the state by this permanent value of human dignity, one should name guaranteeing justice. Only where justice rules, human dignity is maintained. In absence of justice violence prevails. Either justice or violence, there is no third possibility. The primary goal of our state is to regulate our relations by considering what is right and just and what is not and not by violence or power. Thus, already St Augustine said the important words: “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” (De Civitate Dei, IV,4). And pope Benedict XVI continues: “Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics” (Deus Caritas est, 28). The basic values, the rock that the building of a political community is to be built upon, are ethical values and justice is the most fundamental of them at the level of social relations. In order that the state and its leaders may be able to act correctly, we should do our best that ethical reason prevails and that it is purified, as the pope emphasizes. Namely, with the predominance of interests and power that may blind the ethical consciousness of justice and disarm the rule of law, we shall build the house of our home country on sand and suffer all consequences such building involves.
The quick and extensive changes we are experiencing in the modern world often make us think that everything is changeable and that no permanent and solid values exist. Yet this is as if Jesus should say that we could build houses on sand. It is true that a number of things are changing, but as long as man is man with his basic conditions, needs and strivings, he will always need the same basic values to build a solid house of his state community upon them. He will also need a clear and efficient consciousness of his inalienable dignity, he will need the safety and defense of this dignity, which means that he will need a state under the rule of law and a social state that will guarantee solidarity and a just distribution of common assets.
Thus, in the modern state the issue of God and faith as the most solid basis of fundamental moral values is not superfluous either. Moreover, our faith is faith in God as we know Him through Jesus Christ, who gave His life out of love for His brothers and sisters and rose from the dead. Believing in and bearing witness to this Divine love is our Christian contribution to our home country. As pope Benedict XVI said: “The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects” (Letter to the Bishops, 10 March 2009).
Only God, who is not controlled by human interests, is the most solid basis of the fundamental values of any society. Bearing witness to His Love, which presupposes justice and builds it up, has been and will be our most important contribution to the welfare of our fellow men. This is required from us by our God, who gave us this home country, this is required from us by our love of our home country so that it may, in view of the threatening storms, be built on the solid rock of permanent moral values. Amen.