The birth of a child is always a wonder and most times an occasion of great joy. Grandparents as well as parents joyfully share their excitement and joy in their words and pictures. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Matthew 1:18-24) we have St. Matthew’s account of St. Joseph learning Mary was pregnant and deciding to divorce her since he was not the father. But through an angel in a dream, God revealed she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph humbly and joyfully believed and had the unique experience of raising the Son of God as his son.
Recently I read an article by Rick Hinshaw (rickhinshaw.com) entitled “Throw Away the Key.” It was an article about a father named Michael Valva from Center Moriches who was convicted of second degree murder of his eight-year-old son. He was divorced from his first wife and living with his lover. He had custody of his two sons who were in the autistic spectrum. His lover did not like them. Thomas, the eight year old, and his brother were frequently physically beaten by their father. The night before Thomas died he was punished by being locked in the garage in 19 degree weather and slept on the cold cement floor. When his father found he soiled himself since he could not go to a bathroom he hosed him down with the freezing water from an outside hose. Thomas died from hypothermia. The father was convicted of second degree murder and has been sentenced to up to 25 years to life in prison. Hinshaw concludes his article with these words: “There is also the issue of ongoing failure by people in authority - police and prosecutors, judges, social services personnel - to respond to repeated pleas for action from the boys’ mother as well as school personnel.”
Why would I write about this as we come to the joyful day of Christmas? Jesus was an unexpected pregnancy but cherished and brought to birth. Thank God for all of us. As much as we have to be horrified at the treatment of Thomas Valva and his brother, there is an unbelievable disconnect in our country. Michael tragically died at 8-years-old. Children in the womb of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy are readily, legally, and brutally killed as a woman’s right. It does not matter if it is eight weeks, 18 weeks, 28 weeks, or even the day before birth. The President of our nation, the outgoing speaker of the House of Representatives, the governor of our state, the Senate Majority leader, and countless other legislators, all proudly ran for office, pledging to protect the right to abortion up to the very moment of birth. In previous columns I have written about a converted abortion doctor who described how he entered the womb with a grasping instrument and literally tore the child apart piece by piece and had to assemble the parts after the abortion to make sure none were left to infect the woman. How can the horrible death of Thomas Valva be forgotten when an innocent child in the womb is killed by an abortion?
How can we be so inconsistent and self righteous about an innocent child? How callous, heartless, and evil we have become as a nation. Dare we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with heartfelt joy when we live with such evil? I am not out to unfairly criticize those who support abortion and its legislators. I wonder, how can we as nation and as New York State, that I live in, find real joy in what Christmas is truly about?
No government, no political party, no philosopher, no military leader, no teacher can find any way to peace in our hearts and with one another without our Savior Jesus Christ. Killing and sacrificing others for our own comfort and “well being” only leads us into darkness in this world and eternal chaos and suffering in the life to come.
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord's own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall bePsalm Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Shepherd of your Church, you give us new birth in the waters of Baptism; you anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead your people along safe paths, that they may rest securely in you and live for ever in your Father's house.
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