Monday, October 10, 2016

Respect Life: Serve From Your Heart

As this month has begun, throughout the Catholic Church we have called for October to be recognized as "Respect Life Month. This reminder of what it means to hold life sacred at all its stages is needed now, more than ever, I think. I offered a homily, which is somewhat expanded below, on the first Sunday of the month, Respect Life Sunday. Several people have commented on this over the past week, and today, reading about the unrest in South Africa and Jesuit Father Graham Pugin, SJ, being shot with rubber bullets as his church offered sanctuary for student protesters, I wanted to share this thought with my readers.

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Each of us, at one time or another, has probably held an infant. And when I say an "infant," I really mean a newborn infant, that smallest of infants. We hold that infant with sacred tenderness and love; we protect this child, and we fear - a little - about wanting to make sure we don't drop him or her. We are in awe of the beauty of the little fingers and toes, of the little smiles and frowns; we become mesmerized at the smallest of gurgling sounds made by this precious child.

Now connect with that feeling of tenderness and love; close your eyes if you wish, as you recall the child you held, remembering their name, your feeling of joy and fear, protection and love, for your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your grandchild, for your brother or sister, for that child in your arms for even the briefest of moments while it it "your turn" to hold the newborn. 

Hold on to that feeling, and make it your own; imprint that feeling on your own heart, so that you never forget how you - you! - felt at that sacred, tender moment holding that fragile child.

And know this: that same sacred, tender, loving feeling each of us MUST have as we consider an unborn child .... a prisoner .... an elderly person. That tender love must be how we look on the unruly teenager .... the disabled veteran .... the hospice patient. That sacred love must be how we think of the student protester .... the missionary and their homeless friends.

That love, both tender and sacred, is what Jesus asks us to feel when we look on our Samaritan enemies, and our disciple friends; the angry youth striving to break free of poverty, and the first responders who rush in when others run out.


If each person who reads this post connects with your own feeling of tender, sacred love as you would hold that infant, so dependent on your grasp, and looks at those you meet today with that same feeling, we will change the world. If you can look with such love upon others for a week, or a month, then your life and theirs will never be the same.

This is more than to "respect life;" this is to love life. This is living the Gospel; this is to be Christ to one another. This is all that Jesus' asks of us, to tenderly love the least of His beloved daughters and sons. To serve from your heart.