This homily: 28:00 - 34:30
The month of October is observed as Respect Life Month. And this first Sunday of October is Respect Life Sunday. Looking forward to this homily over the past few weeks, the Lord kept putting on my heart a certain parallel in American history. We have an existing pattern for overcoming evil. It takes a really long time but we have one.
We learned in elementary school that even before the existence of our country, some colonists practiced slavery, mostly in the south. Then at the founding of our republic, slavery continued to be legal in the south. It was considered the “law of the land.” However, many people knew it was wrong and fought against it.
This struggle against the evil of slavery continued. Eventually, it seemed like the country was divided in half. On one side were the citizens who knew slavery was wrong, and on the other side were those who thought it was OK.
Some, who knew it was wrong, continued to fight it and hearts were changed. Some people, who were in favor of slavery, had a conversion of heart and later fought to end it. Many of them found healing in Jesus Christ. And I imagine there were even those who owned slaves, who later repented, and also found healing in Jesus Christ.
During this time abolitionists were attacked. Some were killed. Priests were beaten up and killed for preaching against slavery. Suddenly, in the middle of this division, slavery became illegal overnight. But that was not the end of the story. Unjust laws based on race and segregation continued for another century. The culture and civil laws continued to tolerate racism. Some people were attacked and killed because of racial motives.
Then in the 1960s the unjust laws of segregation based on race were removed. But was this the end of the problem? No. There was still a culture of racial division. Hearts still needed to be changed.
There is some good news. The vast majority of Americans, almost everyone, looks back on our history with disbelief. We question: How could the evil of slavery have been legal, practiced and tolerated by so many for such a long time? Thanks be to God: Any politician trying to promote slavery would not be taken seriously and would be relegated to the fringe of society where they belong. Now, there is greater civility among people of all races compared to the past two centuries, but we are still not finished. Hearts still need to be changed in our own time.
Here’s the parallel the Lord has put on my heart: Slavery is a horrible sin, but it could easily be argued that abortion is worse, because an innocent victim’s life is taken. And even though it happens almost 3,000 times a day in this country, it stays hidden. We run the risk of thinking about the greatest evil of our time as an abstract political idea, if we think of it at all.
Notice the similarities in the pattern. In 1973 legalized abortion becomes the “law of the land” when Supreme Court Justices write that they don’t know when life begins. Many people knew it was wrong and began fighting against it.
Now, it seems like the country is divided in half. On one side are the citizens who know abortion is wrong, and on the other side are those who think it’s OK. Some, who know it is wrong, continue to fight it and hearts are changed. Some people, who were previously in favor of abortion, have a conversion of heart and begin the fight to end it. Many of them found healing in Jesus Christ. There are even those who had abortions themselves, and those who performed them, who later repented, and found healing in Jesus Christ. Their stories of healing are the best witnesses of God’s love I have ever heard. Abby Johnson and Dr. Bernard Nathanson come to mind.
I always say in homilies on this topic, mention of the Church’s healing ministries is super important. We are deeply sorry that our sisters in Christ bought the lie of the culture. We do everything we can to bring them to healing and wholeness. And, in love, we promote awareness so no one else will experience this deep sorrow of lost parenthood.
Let’s continue with our pattern of comparison. People fighting to abolish abortion are attacked. Some are killed. Some priests are afraid to preach against it. Some who do are attacked for it. Sadly, about half of our politicians still promote it. But one day, it will be abolished. But will that be the end? No, hearts still have to be changed.
We look forward to that day in the future when Americans will look back on our history with disbelief and question: How could the evil of abortion have been legal, promoted and tolerated by so many for such a long time?
We get our orders from the readings today. The Lord expects good fruit from us in the vineyard. As faithful Catholics, we love the vulnerable. This means we do all we can to help mothers choose life. We do all we can to change unjust laws. In an election year, we have an awesome responsibility. What will be the fruit of our faith?