Saturday, October 07, 2017

DO NOT BE AFRAID - Cultivate a Culture of Life

During my homily last week, I stressed that protection of the life of an unborn child is foundational to all other respect life issues.  I said when we do not defend the vulnerable, unborn child's right to life, it becomes easier to justify the infringement on the right to life of every other human being.  Our advocacy for the marginalized is undermined if we do not defend the unborn child's right to live.  Furthermore, if we are in fact advocates for the right to life of the unborn child, we must also be advocates for education, healthcare, fair wages, affordable housing, migrants and victims of all forms of violence, bigotry, and abuse. Respect for life is comprehensive and constitutive to living the Christian life.

Last Sunday evening, our nation once again experienced a phenomena whose impact continues to bear tragic results,  As of my writing this column, 59 lives were lost and over 500 were wounded through a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Our nation and our world are perplexed, saddened and deeply fearful of these acts of terror.  How is it that fellow human beings can come to the distorted conclusion that there is justification in taking the lives of others? How are we to respond to these unconscionable attacks on human life? 

In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul encourages  us to keep doing what we have learned and received.  St. Paul preached Jesus Christ; who redeemed the world by remaining faithful to the mission, despite the overshadowing power of death.  Upon the birth of Jesus, Herod slaughters the innocent children and his son executes Jesus' cousin John.  Throughout his public ministry, Jesus' opponents continued to plot against him. Furthermore, his apostles, betray, deny and abandon him, yet he persists in the mission.  Hanging on the cross, Jesus looks to the convicted criminal at his side, respects his broken life and promises him a place in the kingdom.  So we too, despite the pressures of the  world, must continue to persevere against what Pope Saint John Paul II  called a "culture of death," in all its forms.

" is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. A person who, because of illness, handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being or life-style of those who are more favoured tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of "conspiracy against life" is unleashed. This conspiracy involves not only individuals in their personal, family or group relationships, but goes far beyond, to the point of damaging and distorting, at the international level, relations between peoples and States."   Evangelium Vitae 12

A woman lights candle
 at a makeshift vigil on the Las Vegas Strip.
(CNS photo/Chris Waittie, Reuters
Saint Paul assures that when we are faithful to the what we have learned, received and heard in Christ, "the God of peace will be with you."  Our first response to what is evil and deadly can only be that which cultivates a culture of life.  Each of us has the power to break the cycle of death.  Each of us has the ability to raise up the dignity of another life, from conception to natural death.  Each of us can overcome the anger, pain and sorrow that we feel when we encounter these devastating acts of terror.

In the days following the tragedy in Las Vegas, the investigation revealed the planning and preparation which the assailant took prior to his attack.  Evil does not randomly come about, it is planned and calculated.  Transformative acts of good that cultivate life need a plan as well.  In the midst of this tragedy, there is evidence of God's plan persevering.  The Roman Catholic cathedral for the Diocese of Las Vegas is named for the Guardian Angels, whose feast day preceded the day of the attack.  The horror unfolded on Respect Life Sunday.   God's plan is rooted in the Gospel of Life and the saving mission of Jesus Christ.  It is a plan that does not built upon anger cultivated by public figures but upheld by guardian angels.  It is a plan which instructs us to, "Love one another as I have loved you."

Image courtesy Holy Trinity Diocesan High School

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