Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Homily

Here we are back in Ordinary Time. Many people active in the Church will often be heard saying: “There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time.” It gets its name from the ordinal numbers, the numbers that show an order, such as first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on. One problem is that in English, the word “ordinary” means plain, normal, mundane.
We just came out of the Christmas season where we focused on Jesus’ birth and the Mystery of the Incarnation. During Ordinary Time, we do not focus on just one aspect of the Paschal Mystery but on the fullness of the Mystery of Christ.

Today in the Gospel, we hear St. John the Baptist say: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Behold love. Behold the one who offers himself as a gift so that we may have life and have it abundantly. That is the definition of love. St. John the Baptist and all the saints have been imitating the love of Christ for 2,000 years. They realized that love is sacrificing one’s own comfort for the good of another, and they imitated that love. That sacrificial love of the Lamb of God is the Good News for us.

You and I are also called to imitate that sacrificial love. Parents make sacrifices every day, so their children may have life and have it abundantly. There is nothing more beautiful. There’s also some bad news today. Love’s opposite runs rampant in our land. Some who get the news they are parents ask the child to sacrifice her life for the comfort or convenience of the parent. This is the opposite of love.

Many pro-life groups observe today as Sanctity of Life Sunday in our country. It gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the precious gift of human life. President Ronald Reagan designated January 22, 1984 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. That date was the 11th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court cases that legalized abortion in all 50 states through all nine months of pregnancy. Now we are up to 44 years since this national disgrace has been legal. And it happens over 3,000 times a day in our land. Meanwhile, many married couples waiting to give sacrificial love through adoption continue waiting.

Today the words of Isaiah from our first reading have special meaning. “Now the Lord has spoken, who formed me as his servant from the womb…” He also adds the line: “I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord…” Isn’t it amazing that we are glorious in the sight of the Lord before we even get a chance to do anything, just because we exist, and are made in His image.

Isaiah also mentions we are dedicated to specific tasks in the Kingdom. But, if I am not allowed to live, my specific tasks in the Kingdom will not be accomplished. The Lord formed all of us to be His servants from the womb. All of us have a unique task to serve the Lord and each other, no matter if we are wanted or unwanted in the womb.
No reason will ever justify taking the life of the child in the womb. Some may say:  The mother is poor.  She can’t afford a child. We don’t fight poverty by killing the poor. Sacrificial love demands that we generously support mother and child. It is up to us to actively change the culture of death into a culture of life. We can’t be shy about speaking up. We have to get engaged in the battle for God’s most precious gift of life. If we don’t know what to say, we can find out what to say. We can ask someone engaged in pro-life work how to get trained. We have to let our politicians know we are pro-life, and killing the unborn is not acceptable. It is our duty to let them know with our voice and with our vote. Now is the time to pray and act.

Please pray for our parishioners who are traveling to Washington for the March for Life on the 27th. We have a group of 11 brave souls. We will brave the winter weather to give a voice to those whose voice cannot yet be heard. We will make a small sacrifice so that others may have life. Every year, I see the hundreds of thousands of youth, in great joy, showing this great love, and it gives me great encouragement.

If the anniversary of Roe and Doe is on January 22nd, why is the March for Life going to be on the 27th? The 22nd falls on a Sunday, and the organizers of the March always make sure it happens on a weekday when the Congress in is session. A new congress took office earlier this month. Some have started working on pro-life legislation. And some have started to fight it. It is up to us to let them know we are pro-life and hold them accountable as the ones charged with protecting the public whenever someone tries to kill the public.

Most importantly, we must always remember to pray for the healing of those who suffer the wounds of past abortions. Many of them were told lies. They were tempted into despair. Many of them were convinced they had no choice, that there was no hope. The burden of regret is becoming more well-known for both men and women. Nobody needs to carry that burden. The Church has many excellent healing ministries. You and I can show the open arms of the loving mercy of Jesus Christ. He will bring them to healing through us. We can be God’s instruments of hope for the world.

Speaking of hope, it is a major theme of Ordinary Time. We wear green vestments because green is a symbol of hope. The color reminds us of renewal, rebirth, immortality, generosity of spirit, and eternal life. It reminds us to focus on the One who is truly life giving. In hope we remember that God has not abandoned us. He is active in our lives. He loves us more than we love ourselves. He invites us into eternal life with Him.

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