Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Facing Goliath

@StudentsforLife on Instagram
Could today's Mass readings be more appropriate on the day of the annual March for Life? I think not.

As tens upon tens of thousands (if not more; we'll never really know) descend upon Washington DC calling for the overturning of a long-established "right" (not to mention a huge moneymaker, besides), the Church's liturgy tells the old, old story of a little boy going mano a mano with a giant. The boy doesn't have much in the way of weaponry: a few rocks. He's clearly not the favorite in this confrontation. But he's there to save lives--to save the people Israel from the threat of war.

In the Gospel we have another face-off, and Jesus makes it very clear that this confrontation, too, is about saving lives, even though the laws in place would seem not to favor that. "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath... to save life rather than destroy it?" Jesus was
also not favored to win this: it was him alone against an established, entrenched, and very well-connected bloc.
@Katlynngrace on Instagram
In both cases, the "weapons" (a few rocks, a spoken command) wielded disproportionate results, because "It is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves." This is especially clear in today's Gospel, in which Jesus gave his life for the well-being of the crippled man before him. The US bishops ask all Catholics today to observe a day of prayer and penance: prayer for the defense of innocent life, and penance, something that costs us personally, in reparation for the evils legalized abortion has visited upon our country: millions of lives lost, women subjected to fear, violence and threats, fatherhood lost and manhood diminished--and how many marriages broken up, too, by secret abortions? All of these sorrows call out for the "sincere gift of self" in imitation of Jesus.

@Hey_Jude_1994 on Instagram shared
the Pope's tweet; as I post this, Pope
Francis has been retweeted 6,915
times, and favorited 5,938.

It is this attitude of Jesus that must permeate all pro-life efforts if they are to be really effective. It won't do to wield the truth like a sword (an approach that some still insist on taking, even though it can backfire fatally). Cardinal O'Malley, in his homily for the Vigil Mass last night, made it clear: "The antidote to abortion is solidarity"; "the only way we can save those babies is by saving the mothers."

Today I will be visiting a place where those mothers and babies are saved: over at Chicago's "Well of Mercy," mothers in need find a place to live, learn life skills, complete their education in a supportive environment. The director and I will be screening the movie "Gimme Shelter," and we'll be talking about that experience, and the real-life experience of the families of the Well of Mercy, on Friday when I host the "Winds of Change" radio program. (The movie opens Friday in limited release; if it is in a theater in your area, be sure to show your support!)

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