Ordinary Time, 14th Sunday (C) I have lived my entire life in a world that treated the abortion as a legal right. I remember praying peacefully at the clinic in Appleton and the Medical Arts building in Green Bay. We felt like lambs among wolves because so many powerful interests were lined up on the side of legalized abortion. Years of prayerful witness to life seemed to be having no impact on the culture of death. Then both clinics suddenly closed. The 40 Days for Life moved to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Oneida Street in Green Bay. This past Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey which had pretended to find a "right to abortion" hidden in the US Constitution.
While there certainly was important political action that contributed to this ruling, I see it as fundamentally a fruit of prayer. June 24th is the day the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist. He famously lept in his mother's womb at the visit of Mary. Even from the womb he is prophesying about the coming of Jesus. But he is also witnessing to the humanity of every unborn child. This year, June 24 was also the feast of the Sacred Heart. It is a feast which celebrates the fact that Jesus loves us with a human heart. This devotion traditionally pictures the Sacred Heart bleeding from the wounds caused by our sins and invites devotees to offer reparation for these sins. God, in his love and mercy, has answered our prayers.
We must continue to stand up for the dignity of every human life. It is even more important that we support pro-life candidates, now that legislators are free to make laws that respect and protect or attack and deny the dignity of the unborn. It's not just about changing laws; it is primarily about changing hearts. I want to live in a world where abortion isn't just illegal, but also unthinkable.
Abortion is just the beginning. The US Bishops have been clear that while abortion is a preeminent issue, there are a whole host of other important issues for the dignity of life. Are the elderly treated with reverence, or warehoused when they are no longer useful? Do we respect the value and dignity of immigrants? Are we working to end gun violence, not just mass shootings, but also suicide?
We are clearly surrounded by a culture of death. It might seem overwhelming. We can all start by treating the people around us with dignity and respect. Practically speaking, that means not flying a "Let's Go Brandon" flag in your front yard. Maybe it was funny once but it does not treat the President of our country with respect. If the President isn't respected, you aren't safe either.
I know a lot of people who think their collection of guns will protect them from the US government. This is wishful thinking. What actually protects us from the government is a climate of respect, honesty, and accountability. Democracy works when government officials know they will be held accountable for their actions and citizens know they will get their day in court. We must fight against the erosion of respect, honesty, and accountability that has been happening recently. It has never been the practice of Christians to only respect the people who look like me, think like me, act like me.
The most important place for us to live the Gospel of Life is in the family. Two individuals of the opposite sex come together in a union of love that is life-giving. Little people should begin life from within a community of love where they can learn, "I am precious, beautiful, loved, and worthy of love." When we learn the opposite from an early age, it is so hard to unlearn.
We are all struggling with wounds. We all struggle to really love and be loved. Jesus wants to heal these wounds. Stay in the Catholic Church! Keep living the Culture of Life. You will find the teachings of the Catholic Church to be a reliable guide to living life-giving love. Even more importantly, you will find yourself connected with the love of the heart of Jesus. When it comes to the culture of life, we all need conversion. That conversion starts with letting Jesus love me.
(3 July 2022)
Going Deeper: What one simple change can I make that will help the people around me feel more valued and respected?
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