Recently the bones of King Richard III were found buried under a grocery store parking lot in Leicester, England. They had been lost for over 500 years. Frankly I didn’t know they were missing in the first place. I mean, who keeps track of the bones of dead people? It makes me wonder about which K-Mart parking lot will they find the bones of Jimmy Hoffa.
I’m a simple kind of guy and just can’t understand why it’s important to “document“ these as the bones of Richard the 3rd. I can understand getting excited over finding dinosaur bones but these are just “people” bones, like the ones hanging in an anatomy lab. And unless you’re trying to solve a murder CSI style, they aren’t of much value. Certainly, Riche the 3rd is a cold case file.
Without some kind of wrapping around bones they are just calcium and collagen like all human bones. It’s the flesh, muscle, and organs that give the bones some meaning. Bones serve an important role in keeping the body upright, but without the rest of us they are just bones and Riche the 3rd’s bones are just like our bones.
You can’t tell who a person is just by looking at their bones anymore than being able to tell who a person is by looking at their whole person. The only way you can tell who a person is is by watching how they react to life. Here’s what I mean by that. It’s awful easy to judge someone by their outward appearance but you never get to know the real person if you do that. What a person looks like is not the what a person is. And a person’s bones are not who that person is.
What a person is is how they relate to each other and the world. You can’t see the real person looking from the outside or inside. You need to look at the “real side,” that part of a person that is seen by their behavior, their compassion, and their love for others. One of the prayers we use in our baptism service suggests that we need to respect the dignity of every human being. We need to document people by this standard not by their bones.