ON THIS SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME we approach this week an ongoing tragedy of human life – the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in this country. We pray constantly that abortion will come to an end. We pray for the souls of those killed by abortion. We pray for healing for those who have had abortions, and who suffer deeply for their decision. We pray for those who find themselves pregnant and who are afraid to have their child, or who do not want the human life in their womb. There is so much to pray for on this issue. Let us all do our part to protect human life, from conception to natural death. Following is a recent statement from Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap., of Boston, who also serves as the Chairman of USCCB’s Pro-Life Activities:
We want to be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only “choice.” A large percentage of children pre-diagnosed as having Down syndrome are never given the chance to live outside their mothers’ wombs. Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery.
These tragedies go directly against respect for life, and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. Rather than societies of “people living together,” our cities risk becoming societies of people who are marginalized, uprooted and oppressed.
What can be done to prevent this? We must draw close to Jesus in prayer and in the sacraments. We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation. When God created each of us, he did so with precision and purpose, and he looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. We must look at ourselves and at others in light of this truth and treat all people with the reverence and respect which is due.
The Church’s antidote to an individualism which threatens the respect for human dignity is community and solidarity. Are we moved by the suffering of those without shelter? Do we seek to alleviate the fear, confusion and panic that women facing unexpected pregnancies may be experiencing? Do our hearts ache for elderly patients in nursing homes who feel abandoned and unwanted, having no one to visit them?
Our mission is to show each person the love of Christ. As uniquely created individuals, we each have unique gifts which we are called to use to share Christ’s love. We are continually given opportunities to do so in our interactions with the cashier at the grocery store, our spouses, children, friends and even the people we encounter in traffic. Each of these moments is valuable beyond our realization. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life.
Love and justice must motivate each of us to work for a transformation of our own hearts so that we can transform the world around us. This is the message of Pope Francis. May the Risen Lord put the Gospel of joy in our hearts so that we may bear witness to the greatest love story ever told.
OF NOTE: In a special way, please remember in your prayers Fr. John Metzger and Msgr. James Ruef who died last week. Both were two of the most dedicated, pastoral, hard-working priests I have had the honor of knowing.
Fr. Michael J. Lumpe