As smart as we are as human beings, which all our technological and scientific advances attest to, we are all too often doomed to repeat mistakes in our dealings with one another and as nations. This past Monday, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. A key issue is abortion. Will the new Justice be the vote needed to overturn Roe vs. Wade which legalized abortion on January 22, 1973? Critical issues are very divisive at times. This is nothing new to our nation.
When President Lincoln denounced the evil of slavery, the Civil War broke out. Our nation was divided and a total of over 620,000 soldiers were killed. Americans killed Americans. That is the highest casualty number of any conflict our troops have been involved in. The total number of casualties from all the wars our troops have fought is 1,264,000, which means over half the lives lost in our history of conflicts were self-inflicted.
Slavery is evil. President Lincoln had the courage to speak out against it. The Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and on saw the loss of more lives because of prejudice, bigotry, and denial of basic human rights for our fellow citizens who are black. Evil never takes a holiday. Now, 157 years after President Lincoln’s bold defense of the lives and rights of all people, we are confronted with the issue of abortion. President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a new Justice to our Supreme Court. The fear of the devil and his disciples is that this evil will be overturned. After 45 years, this issue is still a sore in the moral fabric of our society, as it should be. It not only has terminated the lives of more than 60 million children in the womb, it continues to divide us as a nation of more than 300 million people. Those who support abortion under the guise of rights of women are like the people in the first reading today from the Prophet Amos. In this reading we see Amos being confronted by the powers of his time about his message. Åmos tells his detractors that he has been sent by God to turn the Jewish people away from their lack of trust in God and His ways. His message is met with rejection and he is told to get lost. Chaos ensued. The leaders and the people ignored his warnings and suffered the consequences. To ignore, explain away, or fight against God-given truths is to separate us not only from God, but also from one another, and even our very selves.
One of the reports I read last year had the proponents of abortion saying that the number of abortions is now below one million a year in our nation and the number reported was 929,000, which translates to 2,545 abortions a day, 106 abortions an hour, and 1.7 abortions a minute. Those are staggering numbers, all defended by the elected officials who think they know what our nation needs and what our citizens want. In today’s Gospel Jesus sends out His disciples to preach and gave them authority over unclean spirits. That was to be their focus. He clearly told them to get beyond all distractions: “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” His aim was to get them to focus on the truth and power of God’s love and presence. He warned them that not every place would receive them. In those cases they were simply to move on to another place to spread the Good News. So often we can be distracted from abortion by other crucial issues. One of the key challenges we face in our nation now is how to justly, fairly, and lovingly deal with illegal immigrants and their children. Congress is stalled. Is it overly simplistic to say they are stalled because they are distracted and crippled by defending and promoting the evil of abortion? Once one class of human beings is determined to have no rights and can have their lives legally and efficiently terminated, that evil paralyzes reason, common sense, and trust in God.
In our rectory chapel on the wall behind the altar there is a print of the painting of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. The son is on his knees before his father. His clothing is tattered and one of his sandals is broken. He looks like a very sad, perplexed, and tired man. Evil wore him out but could not stop him from having hope in his father’s goodness and love. Next to this print is a crucifix on which is hanging a body of the crucified Jesus. Jesus was the victim of evil while the prodigal son was an agent of evil. Jesus rose above the evil and shares that new life with us. Do we have the courage to speak, act, and pray in His name? At every Mass in our parish we pray: “that all that divides us in our nation and in our world will be overcome through our sincere faith, love, forgiveness, and prayers.”
We are the answer to that prayer by our attitudes to each other every day and by our concern and participation in the life and moral character of our nation. We also pray for all pregnant women and all families blessed with children. Life is a miracle. At baptism ceremonies I celebrate I always tell parents, “You are like God! In your love you have created a life where there was none before, a person who will live for all eternity.” I also tell them they continue to be like God every day as they love their children with every fabric of their being. How has something so wonderful we do as human beings become an inconvenience, problem, or unwanted? Surely sin and evil have blinded so many of our fellow citizens and legislators.
I invite you to pray this prayer every day as I do: Thank you Father for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. May my gratitude inspire and sustain me in doing all I can to respect the lives of all people and to do all in my power to end abortion and everything else that harms, abuses, or threatens human life. Give me the courage to live in your image each day. Amen.
Fr. WaldBACK TO LIST