Pro-Life Sunday... From the Womb to the Tomb
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, "There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, 'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.' For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, 'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'" The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Today is Pro-Life Sunday and we are going to reflect on the direction our society is going. St. John Paul II spoke often about a “culture of life” in opposition to a “culture of death” which he perceived invading the reality of our world.
Regardless of what happens with laws in our country, the Church’s pastoral response will always be to help women facing an unexpected or crisis pregnancy. This is one way that we respond to Pope Francis’ call to go out to the peripheries of society. One person who did this to an amazing degree was Mother Teresa – St. Teresa of Calcutta. In her 1994 address to the United Nations Conference in Cairo, she said: “I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption - by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: ‘Please don't destroy the child; we will take the child.’”
A time of testing
“We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man, typical of a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism, which, with its ubiquitous tentacles, succeeds at times in putting Christian communities themselves to the test.” (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 21)
The current test is upon us in California with Proposition 1. What is falsely named a “Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom” would effectively shrine an absolute right to abortion in the California Constitution.
Now, I know that emotions run high whenever we hear the word abortion. Many people feel that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a tremendous step backward for women’s rights. Others, myself included, see it as an answer to fifty years of prayers.
Today’s Gospel speaks about a dishonest judge. It is interesting that so much of the supposed abortion “rights” come precisely through the judicial system, which is supposed to uphold “justice.” Justice is essentially to “give to each person his or her due.” Abortion is never just, never the solution, and never a right.
The wonderful thing is that so much ministry has grown around the pro-life movement. The Catholic Church wants to accompany people “from the womb to the tomb.” Beyond giving guidance for correct moral behavior, the Church also provides support for women in crisis pregnancies and support for women who have had abortions in the past. Forgiveness is possible. If you are somebody you know is struggling with a past abortion, seek forgiveness in the sacrament of confession. There are also programs in the archdiocese that help people deal with this tragedy. “What great appreciation must be shown to those women who, with a heroic love for the child they have conceived, proceed with a pregnancy resulting from […] injustice” (Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women)
God’s Forgiveness is greater than our sins
When we are thinking about committing sin (suffering a temptation) God tells us “Don’t do that!” and Satan says “it’s no big deal.” If we have the disgrace of falling into sin, God says “Don’t worry! I forgive you. Come home” while Satan nags us and says “you can never be forgiven. You can never go back.” If you are suffering because of past involvement in an abortion – come home through the sacrament of confession. God’s forgiveness is waiting for you.
The Church wants to help the whole person and every person
Sometimes, people feel that when they hear Church doctrine or hear people criticize abortion that it is a condemnation of the women involved. This is not the case. Rather, the Church wants to bring God’s message of salvation to all people. For a woman in a crisis pregnancy, this means, “we know you are scared. We see you. We want to help you.” For a woman who has had an abortion, this means, “God loves you. His forgiveness is yours for the asking. Come home.”
www.Optionsforpregnancy.com offers resources for pregnant women in California. The App for Life plugs you into a prayer chain for those experiencing crisis pregnancies. www.byyoursidela.org offers help for women suffering from past experiences of abortion.
The California Catholic Conference has criticized Prop 1 as “extreme, expensive, and unnecessary.” The least we can do is vote against it. Even if we lose the political fight, at least our votes will be speaking up and saying that not all Californians agree with this law.
Will the Son of Man find faith on earth?
Sometimes, looking at the extreme secular stance of our culture, we can become disheartened. But do not lose heart. Jesus has conquered the world. (cf. Jn. 16:33)
In 1994, when Mother Teresa spoke at the UN Conference in Cairo, she closed with the following words: “If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak - the unborn child - must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!”