When carried out faithfully, public service enables us to grow in wisdom, integrity and personal fulfillment. Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics gave great importance to such fulfillment – eudemonia – as a goal for every human being, and saw in moral character the way to reach that goal. For them, and for the great Islamic and Christian philosophers who followed in their footsteps, the practice of virtue consisted in acting in accordance with right reason, in the pursuit of all that is true, good and beautiful.
From a religious perspective, we are members of a single human family created by God, and we are called to foster unity and to build a more just and fraternal world based on lasting values. In so far as we fulfill our duty, serve others and adhere to what is right, our minds become more open to deeper truths and our freedom grows strong in its allegiance to what is good. My predecessor Pope John Paul II once wrote that moral obligation should not be seen as a law imposing itself from without and demanding obedience, but rather as an expression of God’s own wisdom to which human freedom readily submits (cf. Veritatis Splendor, 41). As human beings we find our ultimate fulfillment in reference to that Absolute Reality whose reflection is so often encountered in our conscience as a pressing invitation to serve truth, justice and love.