The parish bulletin this week included a truly beautiful leaflet from the Bishops' Conference. The cover was an image of the Visitation, with Elizabeth's arms open wide to welcome Mary, and her words "The infant in my womb leaped for joy." The inside was as thorough a presentation of contemporary life issues as anyone could ask for. One thing that impressed me a great deal in this presentation was the way it revealed how mistaken our culture's presumptions are when it comes to the meaning of life. Culturally, we assume that the meaning of life is achievement. What that does is give an opening to all those forces that would suggest that certain lives are not worth living: the ones that can never "accomplish" what our society considers valuable. Into this pile go all sorts of human beings, especially the most severely handicapped (many of whom now will no longer see the light of day anyway, because they are being aborted once their handicap is recognized). Embryos "created" and stored in laboratories may escape this pile, but only if we can "use" them for experimentation.
But is the meaning of life to be found in a list of accomplishments? This is where the Bishops' leaflet provides a culturally surprising call to conversion: to see every human life as God does is to know that we are made to love as God loves. And that a person's lovableness does not depend on his or her intellectual potential or physical self-sufficiency; that some people, in their weakness, are God's "instrument in bringing forth holiness from others" who learn love from them, "a power that can lead to [their] sanctification."
"You made us for yourself, O Lord..."