Homily for October 2, 2011: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

[Click here for readings]

Since this is Respect Life Sunday, and the beginning of Respect Life month, I wanted to talk about one woman who did respect life – and her choice has made a difference in the life of virtually every person in this church.

Her name is Joanne Schiebel.  In 1954, she was a young unmarried college student who discovered that she was pregnant.  In the 1950s, her options were limited.  She could have had an abortion – but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.  She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and didn’t want to interrupt her education. Joanne opted, instead, to give birth to the baby and put it up for adoption.

And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.

We know him today…as Steve Jobs.

It would not be overstating things to say that Steve Jobs is my generation’s Thomas Edison. As one observer put it, he knew what the world wanted before the world knew that it wanted it.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod, or anything remotely resembling them, you can thank Steve Jobs.

If your world has been transformed by the ability to hear a symphony, send a letter, pay a bill, deposit a check, read a book and then buy theater tickets on something roughly the size of a credit card…you can thank Steve Jobs.

And: you can thank Joanne Schiebel.

If you want to know how much one life can matter, there is just one example.

But: imagine if that life had never happened.

Imagine if an unmarried pregnant college student 56 years ago had made a different choice.

Now, imagine all the unmarried pregnant college students who make that different choice today.

By one measure, more than half of all abortions in the United States – 53% — occur in young women under the age of 25.   That is hundreds of thousands of lives every year, snuffed out.  Millions over the last quarter century.

The horrifying truth is this: we live now in a culture that not only does not respect life, but discards it like trash — not only at the beginning of life, but also at the end, and every place in between.

What has happened to us?

In Europe, there’s a new industry of “suicide tourism,” for people who are old or infirm and want to kill themselves.

In California, when it was announced during a recent presidential debate that 234 people had been executed in Texas, hundreds of people in the audience applauded.

What has happened to us?

Catholics can disagree about whether the death penalty is necessary.  But we can’t disagree about this: cheering death – any death, especially if it involves someone who may be innocent – is an affront to life.  And yet we do it so easily.  And that is part of the problem.

Life has become disposable.

In the New York Times recently, there was a long article about the practice called “singleton” – where women pregnant with triplets or twins can arrange to have one or more of the babies aborted, to better manage the size of their family.

We don’t talk about it often, but it needs to be said: the reason we don’t see as many children any more with Down Syndrome isn’t because of some great medical breakthrough.  No.  It’s because roughly 90% of them are being aborted.

What has happened to us???

If you listen closely, the gospel this Sunday is, in one sense, about respecting life – and choosing death.   It brings us the familiar saying about “the stone that the builder rejected.”  Well, we have rejected more stones, more lives, than we can count.  When will it end?

It’s increasingly clear that the only lasting change will happen when we work to change not only laws, but also hearts.

And that begins with each of us.

When will it end?  This nightmare will end when we pass on what we all know to be true: for all its complexity and complications, all its sorrows and fears, all its headaches and heartaches…life mattersEvery life.  At every moment.

This nightmare will end when we teach our children that nothing, and no one, is ever discarded.  Remember the multiplication of the loaves and fishes?  When Christ performed that miracle, the story didn’t end when everyone ate.  It ended with the people gathering up every crumb.  Because every crumb was a part of that miracle.  No one, no thing, no life is wasted in the incredible work of God.

This nightmare will end when we acknowledge that life is inconvenient, and difficult, and unplanned. But nothing, and no one, is ever unplanned or unwanted when the one doing the planning and the wanting is God.

This nightmare will end when we realize, at last, that love is greater than fear.

It will end when we make of our lives a continuing prayer – prayer that isn’t afraid to plead, to ask, to question, to hope.  Prayer that embraces the beautiful truth of the most popular prayer in the world: “Thy will be done.”   Prayer that is able to trust.

It will end when we see life not as a problem to be solved, but as a gift to be embraced.

It will end when we simply choose life.   Beautiful, chaotic, unpredictable, explosive, crazy life.  Life isn’t something to be discarded because it is difficult, or inconvenient, or unexpected, or old or sick.  It is so much greater than we realize.

I sometimes mention this in baptism instruction: the baptism rite begins with declaring the name of the child.  It harkens back to Genesis, and the first thing Adam did after God created him – he named everything around him.  With that, man continued God’s creative work in the world.  And we do that today: with every life we welcome, God continues His creation. Choosing life, we choose to be a part of that.

That’s what Joanne Schiebel did.  Think of her the next time you make a phone call or plug in your iPod or download music.

And this morning, consider the work before us.  It begins here, and now.

By changing how we talk about life, how we treat life, how we teach life to our children, we will begin to change hearts, change minds.

“Respect life” is more than just a catchphrase.  It needs to be a way of living.  Respect life. Not just in the womb, but everywhere, at every time, in all circumstances — within our families, our communities, the places we work and do business.  It means treating every life with dignity, and honoring every life as a gift.

Doing that, moment by moment, we will begin to change the culture.

And: heart by heart, we will begin to change the world.

  • HMS

    Beautiful and inspiring.

    (I love my MAC even more now.)

  • william dooner

    Permission to place the homily in our parish bulletin

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Absolutely, William. Thank you.

    Dcn. G.

  • Deacon Jeff

    Your best among all the great ones you’ve written Dcn Greg!
    Your Parishioners are in for a wonderful lesson.

  • Christopher Page

    Beautifully and eloquently written. Im going to rethink my support of the death penalty. Thank you.

  • Maria Dominguez

    Great Homily, I would like to share this with my confirmation class.

  • jkm

    This should be distributed to youth and campus ministers across the country. The most powerful and effective (as in, preaching beyond the choir) prolife message I’ve ever read.

  • Fr Louis

    What an inspiring homily! The best in a long while no doubt. May the oil of His Presence never run dry in your life!

  • fiestamom

    Tomorrow is the feast day for Guardian Angels. I sometimes think about the Guardian Angels of those women who give their precious baby up for adoption. What joy it must be. Conversely, what a heartbreak for the guardian angels of those women who choose abortion.

  • http://www.ironiccatholic.com IC

    Excellent! Thank you!

  • Nicole

    Makes me think of others that have been adopted like Beethoven, John Wesley, Ethel Waters, Bill Clinton – what amazing birthmothers they had and adoptive mothers. I am an adoptive mother and post-abortive – God’s grace, mercy and healing are infinite and I am so grateful that he has granted the desire of my heart to have an adopted child and allow me to give public witness to a grave error in my life. You state it so eloquently! I did not have the courage at a tender age to make so great a contribution, however, I DO have the courage with God’s grace to continue to speak and give recognition and life to my son’s life that never came to be. I will pray for Steve Jobs as he fights an immense battle in his life right now and pray he comes to know Jesus and supports pro-life, pro-family values. May God grant him peace and mercy during this difficult illness he faces! God Bless Dcn – I truly believe as you state – one heart at a time – we WILL, thru Our Lord’s mercy and Our Lady’s intercession, reverse abortion. It must start in the heart, then the laws will follow! Keep up the great work you do!

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    I should close down my blog. You’ve just said it all.

    Convicting in its assessment.

    Hopeful in its challenge.

    Breathtaking in its beauty.

    This is a masterpiece of homiletics as well as pro-life apologetics. I’ve shared it with the family over at Coming Home.

    Thanks, Deacon Greg. In the midst of the Father Pavone sturm and drang, this homily rises and arcs above the maelstrom.

  • Deacon Lou ….Phila

    Greg, great homily. So true. We’be become hardened to this horrible reality. Embrace new life, not fear. Thanks. Deacon Lou

  • Melody

    Good one, Dcn. Greg. You hit it out of the ballpark!

  • superv

    We (USA) as a country have a lot of things to explain to do to God on judgement day. We are the leader that many countries model their values after. The decision on Roe vs. Wade has killed millions of unborn children in third world countries including three of my children (Sarah, Joseph and Mary). How could we have ever mistaken a few weeks child in the womb as just a lump of tissues that need to be removed?

    Thank you for your homily. I am in the process of healing, and by the grace of God I am now able to talk to people about my multiple abortions – the multiple murder I have committed 32 years ago when I was still an atheist and hedonist. God is good. He heals me with his precious body and blood in the Holy Eucharist.

    Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pray for us.

  • http://www.worcesterdiocese.org Allison

    Thanks, Deacon Greg! What an outstanding homily, getting so eloquently to the heart of our fundamental belief in the dignity of every human person. I’m sure the link to your post will be spread far and wide and will inspire many. God bless you and your ministry!

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    superv,

    Thank you for your courageous and humble witness! May God bless and keep you secure in the knowledge that your little ones pray incessantly for your healing and wholeness. Many women and men will be touched and healed through you.

    Be at Peace.

  • Greta

    I think I posted a comment on this but did not see it.

    Question..

    “In California, when it was announced during a recent presidential debate that 234 people had been executed in Texas, hundreds of people in the audience applauded.

    What has happened to us?

    Catholics can disagree about whether the death penalty is necessary. But we can’t disagree about this: cheering death – any death, especially if it involves someone who may be innocent – is an affront to life. And yet we do it so easily. And that is part of the problem.”

    I think the applause was for a couple of reasons and not sure that there were hundreds cheering but a certainly loud vocal group. One reason for the applause was that the mediator seemed to be using the old attack that it is only republicans who are pro death penalty and trying to make that point. I do not know of a single major candidate for either party who has taken the Catholic Church position on the death penalty. Has President Obama tried to end the death penalty?

    Second point, President Obama sent one of our elite forces into a country we are not at war with to kill bin laden. Upon his death, the president could not get to a podium fast enough to take full credit (saying I about 40 times) for the kill. Bin laden, unlike those you speak of above, had not had a day in court, had not been found guilty of any crime in a courtroom, nor had he had 10 years or so of massive legal effort to keep him alive. And not just a few, but the country screamed its applause. Now we see that he has sent drones and jets into another country we are not at war with in yemen to kill without trial or appeal, Amereican citizens and others.

    I missed this in your sermon above. While going for the hit on the republicans, you seem to be missing a big teaching moment here. What would the Catholic Church say about these actions? To defend Bin laden right to a trial or these others who we are told are part of alquida and by association thus worthy of being killed without trial. Last time I checked, we are not at war with Pakistan or Yemen and we have invaded their territory with intent to kill on a regular basis. Putting this in your sermon would not make you as popular where you give this sermon as the hit on Perry and the republican party, but maybe it should have been included in one that dealt with life.

    Just one point on what I consider in every other aspect a very good sermon, one of many I have read here. So don’t get to angry at this minor suggestion of equal time.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Greta:

    I deleted your earlier comment because it was all about politics, and the homily has nothing to do with politics. But since you brought it up, yet again…

    In that debate, Brian Williams, the moderator, stated the simple fact that 234 people had been executed in Texas under Gov. Perry — the most under any sitting governor. Before he could actually phrase a question, there followed sustained applause. They were applauding the fact that the state had overseen that huge number of killings.

    And no: that reference in the homily wasn’t a “hit on Republicans.” It was a hit on how desensitized we have become to the notion of state-sponsored killing and the idea that life is just dispensable. It was a hit on all of us for allowing our culture to become that way — literally, a culture of death.

    And sorry: I didn’t miss a big teaching moment here. I made my point. And I think people got it. I think the single mother who had a baby just two weeks ago, and who told my pastor “I’m so glad I made it to church today. That homily was about me” got it. I think the mother with the 30-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome who hugged me tearfully after mass got it. I think the countless people who told me gratefully after mass “We don’t hear that message enough” got it.

    The Holy Spirit did what He did, and made that homily happen. If you have any disputes, take it up with Him.

    Bottom line: I said what I was moved to say, the way that I wanted to say it.

    And, lest you think otherwise: homilies are not about equal time.

    Dcn. G.

  • Greta

    Decon Greg,

    “In that debate, Brian Williams, the moderator, stated the simple fact that 234 people had been executed in Texas under Gov. Perry — the most under any sitting governor. Before he could actually phrase a question, there followed sustained applause. They were applauding the fact that the state had overseen that huge number of killings.”

    No, I think you are wrong. They were applauding because the media uses this line of questioning to attack republican candidates. The media did the same to W. Bush as a candidate, but did not ask Ann Richards about it when she was endorsing Al Gore against Bush or of Gore on the death penalty in his home state of Tennessee. It is well known tactic seen in the media by those who support pro life Republican Party as if the Democratic Party was anti death penalty. That was why they cheered. They were sending a message that this tactic to discredity a Republican governor on the death penalty is not going to fly and also to show Republicans are tired of this same tactic each election.

    Care to guess how many people were put to death in Texas by Democratic governors? Care to guess which party set up the process used in Texas which severly limits what a governor can do in regard to the death penalty? The cheering has been a Democratic talking point to show the Republicans are not pro life since the debate and having it pop up in your comments on another post and now here seemed to be worthy of at least a comment.

    To say it had nothing to do with politics when it has been used as a kind of sideways excuse argument that the other side is not really pro life if pro death penalty, is a little hard to see. Of course the other side is pro death penalty AND pro abortion which the media never seems to point out.

    On a personal note, it would be hard for me not to cheer if the abortion mill that killed my grandaughter was shut down and many there went to serve some prison time. Hard to change at my age so I beg forgiveness if this has been totally out of line. I just thought your post seemed to suggest that those who cheered were doing so to cheer the deaths of those particular 243 people and not for political reasons which would be expected since this was a political debate, not a religious one.

  • Linda

    Thank you for such an inspiring message. God bless you and all the young women considering abortion today.

  • Mary B.

    Deacon Greg, I too loved your sermon and wish it could be heard by all people.

    It seems that the respect for life theme which prohibits support of capital punishment oversimplifies a very complicated subject. This might not be the place to discuss the morality of capital punishment, but I agree with Greta that the applause that you mentioned was not in support of killing people, but rather that the laws were being upheld. The Governor of Texas has very limited power in preventing an execution of a convicted murderer.

    I’ve never forgotten Wm. F. Buckley’s explanation of why he supported capital punishment but opposed abortion: in one the person is guilty and in the other, the person is innocent. That seems reasonable to me.

  • ThirstforTruth

    Deacon Greg…Thank you for this wonderful testimony on Right to Life Sunday…wish I could have been there instead of my parish where our Bishop chose to celebrate Right to Life Sunday with a DVD presentation on his Annual Appeal for Money…no homily whatsoever on any subject! If I smoked I would have taken a cigarette break! Congratulations for speaking up for the weakest amongst us…we rarely hear about this abomination from the pulpit. I admire your courage …and your Bishop for allowing you and your parishioners this opportunity.

  • superv

    What a mess we are in! We are so entangled with legalistic and politicall matters that we can no longer focus on what is important.

    Killing human beings is a sin and a crime. This is non-negotiable. We have to be careful with the kind of message we are projecting and delivering. We might be indoctrinating our children with the culture of death with our behavior.

    After reading that there was a big applause from the audience after an announcement that 234 human beings (not dogs or cat – because we have animal rights to answer to on this things) have been executions in the State of Texas, my simple minds concluded that these people where the applause came from are OK with the killing of himan beings.

    How sad that animals have more right to life than human beings who were created in the image and likeness of God.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Greta et al..

    You can watch the Rick Perry execution question at this link.

    There is strong applause twice: at the mention of the 234 executions, and later at the end of Perry’s answer. People were clearly applauding 1) the fact that people had been killed — AND 2) that the law had been followed.

    The second applause is understandable.

    The first, however, is repellent.

    Dcn. G.

  • NBW

    Awesome post, Deacon Greg! I hope this changes the minds of many “Pro-Choice” women.

  • Greta

    Deacon Greg, First, I want to make sure that you know that the sermon you gave was outstanding and I want to make sure that I praise you for talking on this topic. I think that I said that in the post you deleted, but if not, I want to make sure I do now.

    I did watch the link’d video several times. Interesting response on it from you. The “second applause is understandable” meaning after Gov Perry had explained the process and the fact that those who came into texas and killed faced the ultimate price you found that his answer and the applause it generated was acceptable? Is that correct?

    If so, how does this jive with your sermon on this point..

    “But we can’t disagree about this: cheering death – any death, especially if it involves someone who may be innocent – is an affront to life”

    Can you bring those two statements together for me. Lost…

    Then again..

    The applause after the Perry explanation was much louder than the one while Brian Williams was asking the question.

    The first smaller applause came with this question from Brian Williams…”On the state of texas, your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times”…applause starts and Perry who by his facial expression seemed to have been expecting this from NBC/MSNBC moderatored debate…

    This first applause in my view and others who have seen this, is that it is an applause more against this question than it is celebrating 234 people executed. The smile on Perry seems to show he expected the question. the point the left moderators wants to make is that because you claim to be pro life, you cannot really be pro life if you support the death penalty. It is used to mitigate the pro life issue of abortion.

    In simple terms, you can be fully pro life and in full compliance with Church teaching if you are fullly and completely against abortion and at the same time support the death penalty. However, you can’t be pro abortion and then claim you are pro life because you oppose the death penalty. It would not in any way be a proportional reason to vote for a pro abortion candidate even if they said they were against all capital punishment according to the USCCB letter on voting. And no candidate has been all out against all forms of captial punishment so in a way, the question about captial punishment is not even relevent.

    My point on posting about the drone strikes is to point out we often cheer for the death as we did on a national basis hearing bin laden had been executed under President Obama. His pool ratings went up. Why didn’t you use this as part of your sermon rather than the much more political applause coming in a political debate on a line which is often an attack point against pro life candidates? It would seem in the NY area of 911, it might have raised a more impressive question about applauding death, any death, brought about by execution. It is an honest question. Again, I loved the sermon and applaud you for giving it, but please try to see the angst that pro life candidates get because they support capital punishment. I would have loved to see Perry answer with a question on what pro abortion candidate in the other party is anti death penalty and if none, why is it an issue to be asked.

    I promise post no more questions on this no matter what you answer as I do not want to leave the impression I was not happy to see this sermon, only trying to make a point on the use of this point to attack pro life candidates.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Greta…

    The first applause was for the simple, plain fact that he had overseen 234 executions. There was no question attached to that fact. It was a statement. A significant number of people thought that merited applause. That, I just can’t understand. The fact that Perry smiled at that moment is telling.

    The second applause, however, was for the candidate’s deft answer. He was clearly prepared for it, and defended himself and his position in a way his supporters appreciated. That, I can understand: it was almost like applauding a performance.

    I still find the first reaction repellent. And I find the fact that Perry wasn’t bothered at all by the possibility of executing someone who was innocent deeply troubling.

    Dcn. G.

  • Tom

    Thank you for this wonderful homily Deacon Greg.

    Greta, Mary, it’s important to listen to the Magisterium on this issue. Both John Paul II and the Catechism have been clear that the death penalty should only be used in very limited cases – to protect society. I have taken this from the USCCB Web site:

    In his encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II challenged followers of Christ to be “unconditionally pro life.” He reminded us that “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform” (Gospel of Life, 27).

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that “the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means” (CCC, 2267). The test of whether the death penalty can be used is not the gravity of the offense, but whether it is absolutely necessary to protect society. The Catechism adds that today “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity „are very rare, if not practically nonexistent‟” (CCC, 2267).

  • http://www.gerardnadal.com Gerard Nadal

    Greta,

    How anyone can persist in trying to soil the greatest pro-life homily most have ever heard is just astounding.

    I’m a conservative Republican who detests the death penalty. That said, this was a Republican debate, attended by Republicans, and there was lusty applause for the extent of state-sponsored murder in Texas. It doesn’t matter who asked the question, or why.

    What matters is that a Republican audience gave lusty approval. And if the Democrats are just as bad, that just makes the case even more for how badly we have degenerated.

    It wasn’t a political statement on Deacon Kandra’s part. It’s a fact of life that Texas dispatches a human being almost daily. That can’t happen without broad societal support. That it was applauded in a Republican debate and not a Democrat debate is entirely beside the point.

    The point is that it was applauded.

    Loudly.

    Lustily.

  • http://patheos.com Randy

    wow! thanks Deacon Greg.
    inspiring uplifting and all true. I hope that we all can see that
    all gifts of God are precious. ALL!! I thank God for all his gifts.
    opportunitirs, people, plants, love,mercy, and especially our wonderful clergy. and wonderful Deacons named DK.
    The original.

  • ds

    Also adopted: Caligula

    We should protect all human life because it is a precious gift from God, not because of any future potential for success.

  • Steve

    Is there no justifiable homicide? Is the current teaching on capital punishment absolute? Why is the Church being misrepresented here?

    The issue is debatable. The responsibility of the state in the matter is still intact – churchmen can disagree; but, capital punishment is not beyond the pale.

    Equating capital punishment with the ongoing slaughter of the innocents is simply wrong. And, the current culture of death – meaning the rise of legal abortion and assisted suicide – is concurrent with the rise of the movement against the execution of the properly condemned; it is an inverse relationship. Odd as that might seem.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Equating capital punishment with the ongoing slaughter of the innocents is simply wrong.

    Steve, I don’t disagree with you. In present Church teaching, the two are not equal. And, as I stated, Catholics can disagree on this issue.

    I was decrying the applause for the executions. Which, to my way of thinking, is part the ongoing degradation of and disregard for human life.

    Dcn. G.

  • http://singlecatholicgirl.com Single Catholic Girl

    What an inspiring article! Thank you for shedding a light on how one person can and does make a difference. Whether or not we are a ‘Steve Jobs’ or a ‘John Doe’, one who may be making a difference in smaller ways, each of us is still making a difference. Each of our lives affects the other.

    “This nightmare will end when we realize, at last, that love is greater than fear…

    It will end when we see life not as a problem to be solved, but as a gift to be embraced.”

    I will pass this along to my college students.

  • Mary B.

    Just to clarify a point: If Perry oversaw the execution of 234 people in 10 years in office, that seems like about 23 per year.

    “Gerard” says that there is an execution “almost daily” in Texas. Talk about an exaggeration! Please, can we get the facts straight? Rick Perry did not oversee anywhere near 3,650 executions!

    According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Oklahoma actually executes more criminals per capita than Texas. Gee, could that be true? And Delaware is third behind Texas. It is interesting that we never hear about OK or DE. Makes you wonder why…

  • cb

    I would imagine that the “different choice” that Joanne Schiebel would have actually made would actually have been to raise her child. Therefore, Steve would have existed anyway. Would he have started his company? Who knows.

    However, I find it disrespectful to assume that Joanne would have even considered abortion. It probably never crossed her mind (especially since it says she wanted to marry her child’s father). What she really needed was support and encouragement.

    I am adopted too and I know many others who also are whose birthparents never considered abortion, that the reason they placed their child was because of lack of support/help etc.

  • http://www.lisajuliaphotography.com Lisa Julia

    I just came across this post yesterday on my Facebook Feed, and now today (October 5th) we learn of the death of Steve Jobs. I had no idea he was adopted (as is my husband Joe). I shudder to think what my life would be like if abortion had been legal when Steve and my husband were born.

  • Spiral

    Life has become disposable? What the heck is this guy talking about? It’s been like that since the dawn of time.

  • Anne

    What a wonderful sermon.

    But … For those who accuse us pro-death penalty Catholics of not appreciating that an innocent person might be put to death; are you willing to admit that by NOT putting to death a convicted murderer, you, too, are putting lives in jeopardy? Murders in prison are very common, not to mention murders committed at the direction of convicted murderers behind bars.

    Those committed to life in prison will become one of two things: one who is tortured or who who commits torture (I speak here of prison rape and other brutalities).

    I believe that putting to death a convicted murderer to be a very pro-life stance. We consider life to be so precious, that someone who takes the life of another must lose is own. While there may be forgiveness by God, there is none here on earth, for there is no one to give it.

  • cb

    “Those committed to life in prison will become one of two things: one who is tortured or who who commits torture (I speak here of prison rape and other brutalities).”

    They could also turn to God whilst incarcerated and thus turn other inmates to God as well. I am sure that most prison chaplains would not “well, he’s a murderer, he’s not worth saving”, it is God who decides that not us.

  • cb

    “Makes me think of others that have been adopted like Beethoven, John Wesley, Ethel Waters, Bill Clinton – what amazing birthmothers they had and adoptive mothers.”

    Umm, Nicole, not a single one of those was adopted as far as I can see. Bill Clinton is an adoptee-lite (i.e. his stepfather adopted him) but he and the others seem to ahve been raised by the mothers that bore them.

    Btw I don’t necessarily disagree with a lot of what the pastor says but I just don’t like the way that Steve Jobs was used to demonstrate a point – please, from now on, just let him rest in peace and stop using his situation as an example (especially since, as I said above, abortion may not even have ever been a factor (his bparents wanted to get married but weren’t allowed to)).

  • Anne

    Cb: My main point is that we who are pro-death penalty accept the fact that an innocent person may be put to death. Those who are anti-death penalty must also accept the fact that by not putting a murderer to death innocent lives are at risk.

    A murderer might well turn towards God. The same opportunity the murderer stole from his victim. Murder victims are not given the chance to repent before they die.

  • Jennifer

    You state: “We don’t talk about it often, but it needs to be said: the reason we don’t see as many children any more with Down Syndrome isn’t because of some great medical breakthrough. No. It’s because roughly 90% of them are being aborted.”

    I would like to know where that fact comes from. It is shocking to me! Actually, it made me sick. I want to keep this statement in my mind but I want to know the source in case I am questioned on it during any one of my discussions on why I am a pro-lifer. I think the enormity of that fact is something that will make others rethink their stand on the issue.

  • http://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/ Valency Speaks

    Linking to this post. An interesting treatise, to be sure, but has any of you EVER considered the fact that Steve Jobs’ mother and father wanted to raise him but her father prevented them from getting married? His racist views are what changed the world, not his mother choosing adoption.

    Imagine what heights Steve Jobs’ could have soared to if he had been raised by people who understood his ambition and knew how to nurture his keen intellect instead of genetic strangers. Unfortunately, he wasn’t and so we were all denied the pure genius that could have emerged from his 500 lb brain.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    Jennifer…

    You can find the statistic mentioned here. European rates are mentioned here.

    Valency…

    A number of articles have now emerged suggesting that Jobs’ birth parents did not marry because his father’s family would not permit it.

    Dcn. G.

  • Lillie

    Too bad that “respect” for life doesn’t extend beyond birth. Steve Jobs died from a cancer that is genetic. Because he was adopted, his origins and family medical history were sealed and kept secret from him. If he had had access to this vital information early on, he could have received earlier screenings & treatment and might very well still be alive. Our country needs to repeal these ridiculous laws of secrecy in adoption and treat ALL citizens equally. It’s sad that adoptees must needlessly suffer and die from treatable conditions to “protect” their birthparents from what…having to be honest? Feeling a little embarrassed about past events?

  • DoTheRightThing

    I think so many people in the USA and the western world today live lives so sheltered from the pain and suffering that used to be a bond among all human beings that pain and suffering is something they only come across in movies and on TV where it is used to push their fear, revulsion, and vengeance buttons. Hence, when in real life they are presented with an instance of pain and suffering, they react in a non-serious, flippant manner, as they would at a movie or to a TV show. I first came to this realization when seeing “Saving Private Ryan” in its first-run presentation in a movie theater. When the German sniper is killed by the US sniper (the bullet goes through the German sniper’s rifle scope and into his eye), I (born in 1952 and well aware of the brutalities of war) was stunned by the depiction of sudden, violent death; but a man sitting next to me broke out in a hearty laugh at the seeming “trick shot.” It’s an attitude that treats others’ suffering lightly because the coddled western population doesn’t have sufficient grounding in the subject to be able to take it seriously.

  • Adoptive Father

    @45

    You’re spot-on in your first paragraph, well off in your second. The homily gives whole credit to an anti-abortion stance while neatly sidestepping the racism issue.

    The problem with your second paragraph is, Where’s the guarantee that genetic parents will do the best thing for their kids? Why are you suggesting that Jobs’ adoptive parents were not good enough to do the job?

    But back on the homily:

    Deacon, you say imagine the good that could have been done by all the aborted babies. I say imagine the bad that could have been done. Your pro-life argument is not convincing in a reality-based discussion. Plenty of terrible people arise from bio families, adopted families, etc. This is all feel-good nonsense.

    Jobs, as a practicing Buddhist, would find this article pretty ridiculous, I feel. I doubt he would want the circumstances of his birth and childhood used to reassure pro-lifers.

  • Ruth Ann

    Your words were inspiring and right on target in many aspects. However, regarding the death penalty and people’s reaction to it in the debates, the applause came when Gov. Perry spoke of a person coming to Texas and commiting a crime that, by Texas law, called for the death penalty, then Texas would enforce the law. They were applauding the “upholding of the law”. It saddens our hearts and it saddens God when one HE created commits such an act and must suffer the consequences of it, but HE doesn’t negate the upholding of HIS Word. Under the “Civil Law”, given by God in the scriptures, is where “an eye for an eye” fits. In fact, God says if someone takes a life (murder), then that person’s life is to be taken in the same way. HE gives further instructions, if one wants to read it.
    Yes, we must be sure of a person’s guilt. That is another subject that is worthy of much discussion. But! We cannot pick and choose what part of HIS Word we will or will not obey. We cannot exercise our personal opinion over HIS instructions of how society is or is not to function.

    [Ruth Ann...if you watch that debate moment at this link, you'll see people are applauding before Perry says a word. They're applauding the high number of executions, before the question is even asked. Dcn. G]

  • HMS

    Ruth Ann:

    If you go to YouTube and watch “Republicans Cheer Texas Death Penalty at GOP Debate,”
    you will hear that the applause came right after Brian Williams said,

    “Your state has executed 234 death row inmates more than another governor in modern times.”

  • Marge

    Oops. I am sorry sir, but I didn’t think to request permission to post this on my Facebook/Twitter pages. I also sent it to everyone on my devotions mailing list. This was beautifully written and I couldn’t help but share it…?

  • accuracy

    Others have made the point but I’ll chime in as well. I thought this was a great sermon, and was about to link to it on my church’s webpage (which I moderate) until I read the line about the debate. What they were cheering for appears to be a matter of debate, but what is not debatable is how widespread the noise was. It was limited to a few loudmouths, and was not the ‘hundreds’ you write in your piece. It’s a shame because your POV on Jobs family, especially now in light of his passing, is wonderful and deserves distribution. But it is poisoned by 1) an inaccurate statement (you should have said ‘some’ not hundreds’, and 2)as should be obvious to you from comments above, good people can have a disagreement about what the noise was about. Your observation is an opinion, not fact,and therefore your piece would have been stronger with a different example which all can agree on. There is,perhaps, a culture of death out there, but some cheering from, forgive me,some idiots, at a debate is not the best or strongest example. Your insistence after the fact when several folks have challenged your view on this reveals a political bias,which perhaps you didnt originally intend, but is all too obvious now and sadly distracts from what could have / should have been a wonderful story about life.

    [Accuracy: watch the exchange. It's at this link. I think you'll see you're mistaken. You're confusing this with the OTHER controversial debate moment, when a few people loudly cheered the hypothetical death of an uninsured patient. There's significant applause here. Not just a few people, not just "some." Dcn. G.]

  • Vicki

    I have googled many articles about the birth mother and none say she ever considered abortion. Good article but it’s stretching the truth.

  • Deacon Jim Paris

    Great homily – I will save it to my archives for future preaching reference on pro-life occassions.

  • http://biblechuckster.blogspot.com/ charles

    In a World of Abortion you do not see many accounts of life as this . Thanks for sharing a happy ending.

  • http://www.plam.org Brian

    Thank you Deacon Kandra for a wonderful homily. The “rabbit trail ” comments about Yemen, Rick Perry,etc. are the usual reactions to abortion,adoption, choice etc.

    As I have sidewalked counseled, participated in Genocide Awarness Project, Learn, Inc. or the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, I am constantly challenged, “what about the poor, Darfur, overpopulation and death penalty?”

    It is rare that the question on the table is addressed. Joanne Schieble’s thinking was not so muddled, self-centered but clear. Regardless of the circumstances of her pregnancy and the challenge of raising her child she did not choose the final solution.

    She had her own personal Darfur, her own “population problem”. Thanks be to God she made the decision that I didn’t have the guts, faith and compassion to carry out over 30 years ago.

    Our society regardless of Job’s politics, beliefs etc., is better off. So when you text, Tweet, e-mail or Facebook your condolences don’t leave out Joanne Schieble, a “mother of invention.”

  • Susie

    I feel that this homily is insulting to Steve Jobs’ mother. Do you know if abortion was even considered for one second? I doubt it. The thought of abortion never entered my mind while pregnant with the son I gave up for adoption. I have come to know many first moms over the last few years, and very few even considered abortion.

    The majority of people living today are the result of unexpected pregnancies, even within married couples ~ not just the children whose mothers consider adoption. Would you thank a married women for giving birth and not aborting? No? Because that would be offensive? No different when said about a mother of adoption loss.

    The argument against abortion isn’t adoption.

    Abortion is a choice to be pregnant or not be pregnant.

    Adoption is a choice to parent or not parent your child.

    By the way ~ Steve Jobs’ parents wanted to raise him. His mother’s parents forbid them from marrying and doing that ~ out of prejudice. So sad.

  • Thomas

    Something I read as a teenager made me think seriously about the death penalty:

    “Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

    I cannot see all ends. Steve Jobs himself said that you cannot see how the dots connect until they are behind you. Executions end the dots adn you will never know how they would have connected.

    Maybe we should all remember the lesson of “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” as that execution was also sanctioned by law.

  • Fr. Bill

    Deacon Kandra:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful homily and the truth you expound.

    …Made even more meaningful with Steve’s passing.

    Very Gratefully,

    Fr. Bill

  • http://www.declassifiedadoptee.com Amanda

    With all due respect, I ask that everyone who cares for someone who is adopted to work to end the adoption-abortion stigma whenever you can. It is a stereotype based on outdated views of women and “illegitimate” children.

    As someone already said, I see, in the comments, abortion is a decision about pregnancy. Adoption is a decision about parenting. Just because someone does not want to be or does not plan to be pregnant and becomes pregnant does not mean that the baby is unwanted or unwelcomed if carried to term and born.

    Just because a mother surrenders to adoption does not mean that she considered abortion at all. In fact, I think a good indicator that she may never have considered abortion IS indeed the fact that she did give birth and surrendered to adoption, for, for whatever reason, she was unable to parent.

    Many, many women consider abortion. But we know as fact that most mothers with unplanned pregnancies who give birth to their babies KEEP their babies. It is highly more likely that those who were “saved” from abortion are walking among those who are NOT adopted, and not among those who are. Yet surrendering mothers and adoptees are the only people to carry this stigma.

    Is this right? Is this fair? Is this just? To let one group of people and their mothers be foremost valued by someone’s reproductive choice and carry the stigma of that choice for the rest of their lives when it is based on stigma and not fact.

    As someone who is adopted and has been asked “aren’t you so grateful that you weren’t aborted?!” more times than I can count, with a mother who NEVER even considered abortion, I ask people to please stop repeating this stereotype.

    The basic fact of the matter is that if Jobs’ mother was anything like 70% (and that number is believed to be a low estimate) of the unmarried mothers who surrendered to adoption between 1945 and 1973, it was because both society and law forbade it. Other popular news articles have said that his parents wanted to be married and that his father did not want him to be adopted out—but the social environment of the time was just not conducive to that happening.

    When we look at individual people rather than blanket labels and stereotypes, which seems to easy to do to women for some reason, we see a whole ‘nother picture.

  • marie

    I am married and my husband and I have a beautiful three year old. We were told by doctors our son would die after he was born within six months that he had downs trisomy 18 and had a cyst on his brain. We have four other children all healthy.The doctor hospital called me and asked me to abort our baby til we decided to switch hospitals. We had numerous ultrasounds and we tried to prepared in case what they told us was true. Really how do you prepared for a baby that will bless your life but will pass. I prayed and ask god to bless us and not let our baby die. They wanted to do amnio. I said no god gave us this baby I will not do anything to lose his life. I am blessed to tell you three years ago we had a beautiful healthy baby boy. He is perfect he does not have any tumors and he doesn’t have downs. Don’t believe the doctors! Don’t abort your baby. If your child is born with downs and you cannot handle it plenty of parents cannot have babies and will gladly raise them. Plenty of children grow up and attend college with downs. Children are a gift and we don’t get to pick and choose what God gives us and they all deserve to be loved and have life. A friend of mine had a baby that passed hours after being born and she said her husband and her loved him with all their hearts for the short time they had him. I hope this helps someone.

  • http://www.standing-tall.com Bob B

    Outstanding homily. I am always pleased when I hear of a spiritual leader unafraid to speak out on abortion. Most pulpits are silent on this issue, and evil flourishes when good men do nothing. I encourage anyone who has any concern at all for this issue and our culture war to go to http://www.standing-tall.com and get informed and get engaged in our political system and make your voice and vote count for God and His kingdom. Also, make sure you watch the All Hands on Deck Presentation.

    Here is a tip for life.
    If you want God to bless your life, then live your life to bless God.

  • Emily

    Thank you for this lovely message.

  • http://letterstomsfeverfew.wordpress.com/ Valency Speaks

    Lillie -

    Birth records of adoptees are *not* sealed to protect natural/birth families. Sealed records are an artifact of the truly evil people such as Georgia Tann, evil people who were covering their tracks in their shameful practice of baby trafficking. Baby brokers such as Tann started sealing reocrds to protect the identity of the people who adopted the babies and to prevent natural families from tracking down their stolen children.

    Sealed adoption records protect the identity and anonymity of ADOPTIVE parents and their adopted child, NOT the natural family.

    M.

  • http://google Charlie Borg

    When you READ OR HEAR A HOMILY SUCH AS THE ONE WE JUST READ,THERE IS NOTHING TO ADD,BECAUSE ALL IS SAID SO BIUTIFULY.BUT I WANT TO ADD ONE THING BESIDES THANKING GOD FOR GIVING US US STEVE JOBS,AND OTHERS LIKE HIM WHO HAVE DONE SO GREAT WORKS IN THEIR LIVES.WHAT WOULD WE HAVE LOST IF THEY WERE ABORTED.THE WESTERN WORLD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM AND CAMMORA OR EVEN WORST BY THE KIND OF LIFESTILE THEY LIVE.NO WONDER THAT THE MUSLIM POPULATION WILL OVERTAKE CHRITIANITY.I PLEAD TO ALMIGHTY GOD TO HAVE MERCY ON THIS MODERN ABORTIVE WORLD.IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR ONE TO CHANGE HIS OR HER LIFE STILE,GOD IS MERCYFULL AND ALWAYS READY TO RECIEVE THE PENITENT LIKE THE PRODICAL SON.

  • http://themorningafter.us Pharmer

    Good one….. and it one more link.

    This is one reason, among many, to avoid usurping the life and death business from the ‘CEO of the universes’.

    This pharmer is obsessed with another reason: that the advancement of humanity is fueled by the need to address human suffering and need.

    The short sighted get the idea that human suffering should be addressed by removing those who suffer or have special health needs.

    Besides the immediate wrong of killing them, comes the Devolution of civilization. Our impetus to create and invent to address human suffering and need is squashed, because those people are gone.

    Some people have an indirect life mission to increase the humanity of everyone around them. They are as valuable as Steve Jobs.

  • http://www.bmwdeals.me.uk Emile Filgo

    I’ve learned… that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X