At least a decade ago a young priest from Philadelphia, Father Tom, shared with me his private protest against the somber practice of abortion in our country. He would not send Christmas cards as long as children in the womb were not protected by law in the United States. He said that he would instead send out Annunciation Cards for March 25, the day that celebrates the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. For a number of years now I have received with joy his Annunciation cards.
On March 25, 1995, the Feast of the Annunciation, Pope John Paul II offered his Encyclical, The Gospel of Life, to the Church and all people of good will. In it he presented a Gospel vision of building a culture of Life and a civilization of life as opposed to a culture of death and a civilization of death. Saint Pope John Paul said: The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ message, “I came that they may have life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10).
The Gospel of Life also speaks of treasuring the elderly and others that society is tempted to cast aside as no longer useful and productive in our ‘throw away culture.’
The Gospel of Life also warns against the practice of euthanasia which is now legalized in half a dozen states and the District of Columbia under the euphemism of “Death with Dignity,” and “Doctor-assisted Suicide.”
A number of states still practice the death penalty which is contrary to the Gospel of life.
Vatican Council II condemns crimes and attacks against human life:
- Whatever is opposed to life itself such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction;
- Whatever violates the integrity of the human person such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself;
- Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children;
- Disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons…All these things and others of their kind are infamies indeed.
All of these poison human society and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from injury.
Finally, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator, the Author of Life.
What are we to do? We must do more than condemn abortion and other assaults on human life and dignity. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Here the vision is provided by the Lord God who chose to send his Son to be incarnate in human flesh. The presence of God in human flesh has raised to incredible heights the dignity and value of all human life. Our high destiny is to have abundant life in this world and an even more intense and abundant life in the world to come with God Himself.
How do we embrace the Gospel of Life? Certainly by prayer, especially family prayer, and also by doing all we can morally to build a culture of life in our own hearts, our own families, our neighborhoods, cities and nations. Every human life begins in God and is a product of a thought of God, is necessary and is an outpouring of Love. Life enters our world in our families and is blessed, cherished and honored there. Think about it: The Gospel of Life is born afresh every time a family welcomes a new child of God.
Copyright 2018 Fr. Willy Raymond, C.S.C.