Dear brothers and sisters, in few days we are going to witness one of the most moving catholic events in the US. On Monday, January 24th thousands of youth will gather at Verizon center and other locations to pray for and to witness to one fundamental truth: that life is sacred. That man has been created in the image and likeness of God and that regardless his color, race, religion or age he has to be respected as such.
After, the mass, hundreds of thousands from across the US will march to the Supreme Court to proclaim that the value of life must be respected always and that abortion is evil and is destroying individuals, families and the whole nation.
With the coming of Christ new value is placed on human life. Christ reveals man to himself. In Christ we are made aware that each and every human being is made in the image and likeness of God; that each and every human being is unique, precious and unrepeatable. Each and every human being has an eternal destiny to be with God in Heaven.
But a decline in the practice of the Christian faith has led to increasing attacks on human life in our society today. The American Bishops wrote in 1998:
"We are now witnessing the gradual restructuring of American culture according to ideals of utility, productivity and cost-effectiveness. It is a culture where moral questions are submerged by a river of goods and services and where the misuse of marketing and public relations subverts public life."
The losers in this ethical sea change will be those who are elderly, poor, disabled and politically marginalized. None of these pass the utility test; and yet, they at least have a presence. They at least have the possibility of organizing to be heard. Those who are unborn, infirm and terminally ill have no such advantage. They have no "utility," and worse, they have no voice. Today, when the inviolable rights of the human person are proclaimed and the value of life publicly affirmed, the most basic human right, "the right to life, is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death" (Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium Vitae], 18).
When Christ is valued before self, human life is given its proper respect. When self is valued above Christ human life is endangered.
Listen to what JPII tells us in his Letter to Families of 1994:
“The fact that Jesus, from his very birth, had to face threats and dangers has a certain prophetic eloquence. Even as a Child, Jesus is a "sign of contradiction". Prophetically eloquent also is the tragedy of the innocent children of Bethlehem, slaughtered at Herod's command.
In the Gospel, the proclamation of life, which comes about in a wondrous way in the birth of the Redeemer, is now put in sharp contrast with the threat to life, a life which embraces the mystery of the Incarnation and of the divine-human reality of Christ. The Fathers of the Church frequently call attention to this sublime mystery: "God became man, so that we might become gods". This truth of faith is likewise the truth about the human being. It clearly indicates the gravity of all attempts on the life of a child in the womb of its mother. If a person is exclusively concerned with "use", he can reach the point of killing love by killing the fruit of love. For the culture of use, the "blessed fruit of your womb" (Lk 1:42) becomes in a certain sense an "accursed fruit".
That’s why, dear brothers and sisters, the law of God is univocal and categorical with respect to human life. God commands: "You shall not kill". No human lawgiver can therefore assert: it is permissible for you to kill, you have the right to kill, or you should kill. Tragically, in the history of our century, this has actually occurred when certain political forces have come to power, even by democratic means, and have passed laws contrary to the right to life of every human being. How can one morally accept laws that permit the killing of a human being not yet born, but already alive in the mother's womb?
We are facing an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself. The statement that civilization has become, in some areas, a "civilization of death" is being confirmed in disturbing ways. Was it not a prophetic event that the birth of Christ was accompanied by danger to his life? Yes, even the life of the One who is at the same time Son of Man and Son of God was threatened. It was endangered from the very beginning, and only by a miracle did he escape death.
Nevertheless, in the last few decades some consoling signs of a reawakening of conscience have appeared: both among intellectuals and in public opinion itself. There is a new and growing sense of respect for life from the first moment of conception, especially among young people. "Pro- life" movements are beginning to spread. This is a leaven of hope for the future of the family and of all humanity.
Pope John Paul II recognized that respect for life is an integral part of the Gospel that we are called to believe and proclaim. Every Christian is called to be unconditionally pro-life and to proclaim this Gospel by word and deed. Every Christian is also called to proclaim God’s mercy and love, helping to reconcile sinners to God and the Church.
Therefore, I encourage you, my brothers and sisters, to always pray that the right to life may be guaranteed and protected in our laws again. Pray for all mothers and fathers who are considering aborting their children, that they may recognize in their babies not a threat to their well being but a blessing from our creator. Pray for leaders of this nation that they may recognize that God has entrusted to them the huge responsibility of ensuring equal rights for all the members of society, especially those who don’t have a voice. And let us pray for each other, that we may always defend and promote life.
Jesus took on our human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was born for us at Bethlehem and died for us in Jerusalem so that our sins would be forgiven and we might have everlasting life. There is no sin too big that God is unable or unwilling to forgive if we repent and turn back to Him. Let us not forget then, that there are many fathers and mothers out there who are suffering because of a bad decision. Let us also reach out to them with this message of love and forgiveness. God is waiting for them, he who is the truth, the way and the life is always waiting with open arms to fill our souls with the healing power of his grace.