This weekend, we mark Respect Life Sunday. Here’s part of my homily for this Sunday from 2012:
On this Respect Life Sunday, we cannot overlook the ways in which our culture does not respect life—and, in fact, dismisses it or even discards it.
It happens at abortion mills, like the one down the road on Austin Street.
It happens in nursing homes, where the old and the frail are ignored or warehoused or so often treated as burdens.
It happens in schools, where children are taunted or bullied.
It happens in laboratories, where embryos are treated like commodities to be harvested, instead of lives to be nurtured.
It happens anywhere in the world where men and women are tortured or denied the most fundamental of human rights, including the right to pray.
It happens in societies where death is considered just one more freely exercised choice.
We’re seeing it in our own backyard. A New Jersey state legislator introduced a bill to permit what he called “Death with Dignity,” allowing the terminally ill to take their own lives. This is nothing less than state-sanctioned suicide—and one more step on a slippery slope.
In short: we fail to respect life anytime we treat the gift of life—God’s first and greatest gift—as a problem, or an inconvenience, or a hardship, or junk.
[In 2012] Pope Benedict made a historic trip to Lebanon, and delivered an apostolic exhortation to the Church of the Middle East. It’s a remarkable document. I encourage you to read it. It’s on the Vatican website, Vatican.va. In just 100 paragraphs, the Holy Father lays out his vision for that troubled corner of the world—but he speaks, too, of so many vital issues of our time. And that includes our mandate that we reaffirm this morning: to respect life. And the Holy Father reminds us: it all begins with the ultimate affirmation of life, the Incarnation, when God became man.
“It is because of Jesus,” the Pope wrote, “that Christians are sensitive to the dignity of the human person. God wants life, not death.”
Shouldn’t we want what God wants?
We need to seek out opportunities to honor the priceless gift we have been given. Listen to those who are ignored. Remember those who are forgotten. Stand up for those who are victims of hate, or violence, or disrespect. Pray for those who will be aborted, or euthanized.
God wants life, not death.
When we look into the eyes of another, no matter what their circumstances, see what the first man saw when God brought a new life to him: here is another one like me. Here is a life that is unique, and blessed, created by the One who created us all.
If we think that way, we can’t help but discover this heart-stopping truth: every life bears the thumbprints of the Creator.
Every life, in fact, is a miracle.