While on his trip to the United States our Holy Father, Pope Francis, addressed a joint session of congress and he told them, “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” He also told the legislators that by their work they “are asked to protect, by means of law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human life.” Let us reflect upon these words of the Holy Father as we celebrate Respect Life Month.
The following is my homily to open Respect Life Month. May we never forget to protect life from conception until natural death!
My brothers and sisters, our God, the master and creator of the universe, sustains all life in His very existence. By His great providence God saw fit to create life. Creation was not necessary but because of the love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit they chose to pour forth their very selves so that you and I might exist, that we might have life.
This same God, after promising our first parents, Adam and Eve, that they would be able to enjoy paradise forgave them for their sin. While He inflicted temporal punishment upon them He still sustains their life. For the generations that follow He offers them a covenant so that they may once again be the “chosen people, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” Once, again they disobey God and sin against Him but He chooses to forgive us time and time again.
Until He decides to show us the ultimate gift of love and to send His Son, “the Only Begotten One” to take on our form, to live life as one of us and to even endure suffering and death on our behalf. Yet, this was not to be the end because He rose from the dead to restore us to true life. Jesus tells us in the words of John that He “came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Life then is a gift. It is not just a gift for some but a gift for all people, a free gift from God to us that allows us to experience the great joys of His creation and to come to share with Him eternal life. Life then is the fundamental principle. Life is a necessity before anything else is possible. Life is our opportunity to participate with God in the building up of His kingdom.
The Church teaches clearly and consistently that we must always be aware of those who are in need. Christ himself taught us in Matthew 25 to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit those ill and imprisoned, give drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry. Yet, none of these things can be done unless the person has first been given the opportunity to be born. The greatest social injustice of our day is happening all around us.
Day after day more and more abortions are committed. Unborn babies are denied the same opportunities that you and I have been afforded, the opportunity to live the life given to them as a free gift from God. It is not a gift of parents primarily but a gift of God.
We have also determined in our society that those who are aged and sick should not be a drain on our economy, on our resources. We take away from them too this gift of God. This free gift, which allows them to journey without conditions to their Creator.
This erosion of the Dignity of Human Life doesn’t just happen in these two places. We turn on the television and each day in our city we see another murder report, another mass shooting, another child being abused or neglected, another person living below the poverty level or another rape story. These sins against humanity grieve our Lord because they are sins not only against his people but they are sins against His very gift.
Instead of recognizing our role as participants with God in creating we have tried to become the sole creators. We have tried to make ourselves the arbitrators of life, deciding who gets to live and who should die.
Yet, my brothers and sisters the Good News is that Jesus Christ is already victorious over sin and death. He has already won the war even if we seem to be losing these particular battles. We must not despair but we must trust in the Lord and work in conjunction with Him to protect all life.
Each one of us by virtue of our baptism have been missioned to participate in the building up of God’s kingdom. We can do this no more effectively than by being Advocates for Life, by standing up for those who are vulnerable and assisting them with our voice. God has given us the gift to do it, for He has already given us life.
As our prayer to end abortion says, “let me never be silent or forgetful.” May we never be silent or forgetful of those babies, who though unborn have a right to life, of the children and adults who are living in poverty, of the people killed each day on our city streets, of the people who are imprisoned, especially those on death row, of the elders who have no one to care for them. May we never be silent or forgetful but may we always speak up in the face of injustice of every kind.
Thanks be to God that He truly has the whole world in His Hands. May we never despair in our fight! May we never grow tired on this journey! Instead may we always be encouraged to know that God has got us in His hands and helps us on the way!