THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME--1/22/95By Msgr. Eric R. Barr, STL
READINGS: I COR 12:12-30; LUKE 1:1-4; 4:14-21
I. Issues of Life Cannot Be Taken For Granted
A. Our kids are back from the March for Life in Washington, D.C. where they joined over 650,000 others on a snowy day to stand up and walk to demonstrate their support for the dignity of human life in whatever stage we find it. Their surety, their certainty, their faithfilled witness is very similar to what we hear in the Gospel today, namely, that Jesus came forth and began his public ministry knowing what he believed and not afraid to speak the truth.
B. Several years ago, I gave a pro-life homily where I described a man who had an 80 year old father who was terminally ill. The old man asked his son to help him die by giving him an overdose of medication. Later in my homily, I pointed out that it is morally wrong for the son to give his father that overdose of medication. You can put sick dogs to sleep but you may not kill your father. Imagine my surprise when I walk into the eighth grade classroom a couple of days later and look at one of the favorite classes I have taught and see their innocent faces as they say in innocent surprise--"You mean we can't help an older person die? We can't give them an overdose of medication even if they ask for it?" Out of the mouths of kids!! Many of them really thought that was OK. Well you can imagine, I was pretty shocked, but I wasn't mad at them. I was just shocked that our civilization under the disguise of choice and freedom has descended to this barbaric level, where innocent children think its OK to put terminally ill people to death like old dogs are put to sleep at the vet.
C. Clearly, in the families of these kids, and, in fact, in all our families, life issues are just not being talked about. And if you think I'm going to get on parents' cases here, I'm not. I was going to until I realized it's not your fault either. We grew up in a society that believed in the sacredness of life until forty years ago when the Supreme Court allowed abortion on demand. Since that time, besides 55 million lives being snuffed out by abortion, we are now moving towards the position that old people, the sick, the retarded, those not valued by society can be killed or not given medical treatment. We never used to have to talk about life issues, because everybody valued life. No longer. Now we have to teach our kids in this area too.
D. I am here today to urge you parents and grandparents--all who teach the young--to talk to your kids and tell them the truth of our faith, that we stand for human life in all its forms, and that we believe it is not in our power to kill innocent human life. It is wrong to commit suicide, it is wrong to help others do it, it is wrong to have an abortion, it is wrong to help others do it, it is wrong to silence the voices of the weakest members of society.
E. And hear me clearly. The Catholic Church's position on human life is very easy to understand, and very easy to teach. And if you are Catholic, you must believe it. And if you don't believe, leave and join this wonderful secular society that is very willing to kill you if you don't fit in.
II. The Church's Position on Life Issues
A. On Abortion--You know the Church's position--it is the position of our faith--no direct abortion is allowed. We have not been given the power to kill innocent life. This will never change, just like the 5th commandment will never change--"You shall not kill!" To teach your children anything else is to teach them to walk in darkness and evil.
B. On Euthanasia--The direct killing of the sick, or helping the sick kill themselves is gravely wrong. We have not been given the power to kill innocent life--even if it is our own. The 5th commandment says, "You shall not Kill!" To teach your children anything else is to teach them to walk in darkness and evil.
--To let nature take its course at the natural time of death is one thing. You don't have to take extraordinary measures to prolong your life, if you are in the process of dying.
--But you cannot do anything to a sick person that will directly cause his/her death.
C. On Genetic Manipulation--Picking the sex of a child, creating a super race, aborting a child because its genes show that it won't be as tall as Dad or as pretty as Mom, using fetal material from aborted fetuses to help others who are sick, all this is gravely wrong, and our teaching on it will not change. Killing people to supposedly help humanity is a violation of the 5th commandment--"You shall not kill!" To teach your children anything else is to teach them to walk in darkness and evil.
III. The Church Tells Us That Human Life Is Hope
A. Don't be silent in talking about these issues. Teach your children, learn yourselves that our faith values life. Human life is human hope! Look at what St. Paul says today in the second reading. Each of us is part of the Body of Christ. "There are indeed many different members but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I do not need you,' any more than the head can say to the feet, 'I do not need you.' Even those members of the body which seem less important are in fact indispensable." St. Paul goes on to say to each one of us, "You then are the body of Christ. Every one of you is a member of it." That means born and pre-born, retarded or smart, handicapped or athletic, old or young, rich or poor. Through the Scriptures God has said this; God has made it so. Who are we to go against him?
B. I challenge any of you who disagree with me to look through your Bible and see where the rationale for abortion is; where the argument for euthanasia, where the reasoning for fetal experimentation and genetic manipulation. The Scriptures and our faith tradition are unanimously clear--there is a respect for life that must be present because of the one who gave us all life--God! In the Gospel today, Jesus came to announce Good News--a message of life for all those who were close to the darkness of death. No where does Jesus take human life. He preserves it, honors it, protects it, treasures human life.
C. I am asking you; I am begging you, believe what the Church says for she is right and speaks God's truth--No more death! No more abortion! No more Euthanasia! No more mocking the gift of life through experimentation on human embryos and harvesting cells from aborted fetuses to use as medicine! No more thinking that freedom and choice means doing whatever you want to! No more death!
D. I want to walk into a classroom of Catholic kids and hear them say, "We believe in the right to life!" They deserve to grow up with that truth. I don't want to have to explain the Church's position to them. I want them to have already heard it from their parents and grandparents--and I want them to believe that truth. I want them to shout, "We love life! We respect it in all its human forms. We will care for the young, we will be there for the old, we will give the ultimate decision of death to God not to ourselves. We will not manipulate humanity. We love life!" That's what I want to hear. That's what you must teach them. If you are confused and don't understand, if you are troubled and are unsure what to say, look at the Catechism that so many of you bought, read the Bishop's letter in our bulletin, believe what I say, believe what St. Paul has said, believe what Jesus stood for: Human life is precious. Guide it, guard it, save it, protect it, treasure it. We are Catholic. We love life. And we will never change! We will never weaken! We will never abandon those who are small and helpless! We love life, for human life is a precious and holy thing, given by the God who holds us all in the palm of his hand.