|Respect Life Sunday 2014|
"I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
But we live in such confusing and disorienting times. The attitude seems to be "whatever"--as in "whatever goes," and "don't bother me". Indeed, Pope Francis maintains that "a globalization of indifference has developed"; he writes that, "Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own" (EG, n. 34).
So would we even recognize the abundant life if we saw it--or if it reached out to touch us?! And are we even able to weep at the suffering of yet another "masterpiece of God's creation"?
Each October, the Church's celebration of Respect Life Sunday is intended to help us overcome our indifference. If the theme seems at times politicized and polarizing, it may be because there are so many confusing and disorienting "Life" issues to sort out:
- Terrorism is universally denounced for its loathsome targeting of innocent civilians, and yet our nation "drones on" in Afghanistan with a so-called "pre-emptive" strategy of war; strangely, however, there are no longer even body counts of the "collateral damage." Are we becoming the same judge, jury and executioner which we rightly renounce in our enemies?
- "Quality of life" has become a powerful phrase in making medical decisions for the elderly and the infirm, and yet many people now advocate withholding even food and water from their relatives in the name of "compassionate care." Has "assisting" suicide effectively replaced authentic human compassion ("suffering with" another)--and, if so, to whose benefit?
- The federal government continues to maintain that it will not use taxpayer funds to pay for abortions, and yet following recent reports by independent auditors, there is a bill moving through Congress focused on "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act". Will the ruling political party have the right to coerce consciences in the name of its social agenda, or will American citizens have real freedom of conscience?
- Economic powers-that-be continue to push for sustainable recovery and growth, and yet we justify sweatshop labor with the rationalization that such work is better than no work at all. Would any of us want to offer up our own children to such labor--and do we really think that God wants his children offered up in this way?
- The effort to redefine or un-define the family has been enthusiastically supported by adults who want to have their emotional and personal needs met, and yet the fact that countless children will be guaranteed not to have a father or a mother seems of little concern. Will our society ever dare to put a priority on the needs of those who are most vulnerable--our children?
- Though there is no consensus on how to do it, there seems to be almost universal agreement that we must address our nation's immigration policies; in the meantime, families are split apart, political and economic refugees are labeled as "illegals," and the U.S. seems more driven by fear than by principle. Will we be a nation of immigrants only when it is convenient?
- The Department of Health and Human Services continues trying to mandate that oral contraceptives and abortifacient drugs be provided to all women at no cost, and yet the World Health Organization has classified combined estrogen-progestogen oral contraceptives as a Group 1 carcinogen. What's going on here? And how have the past forty years of virtually universal contraceptives worked out in terms of teen pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, abortion rates, etc.?
So where do you see signs of a more "abundant life"? Where do you see people treated as "masterpieces of God's creation"? Where do you see Light and Love at work?
These are the people and the places where the cultural indifference is giving way to a deeper passion for the poorest, the weakest and the most vulnerable. They are our responsibility, after all.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, pray for us--