Day for Life 2012

‘It is not good that the man should be alone…’

The first reading today, from the first book of the bible, the Book of Genesis, explains how man and woman were created from the beginning for each other. This is how God has made us, for the God of love finds loneliness intolerable as we do.

The second reading from the NT letter to the Hebrews proclaims the fact that in Jesus God is with us in our humanity and knows the pain and struggle being human can be. So, just as He has made us to be with each other, God wants to be with us himself.

And then the Gospel today begins by declaring that it is God’s fundamental plan that marriage be for life, and it concludes by placing little children at the very heart of God’s care, concern and Kingdom.

On this Day for Life, these readings provide the context in which we focus on the little child at its most fragile, as infant in the womb: human life at its tiniest, most vulnerable and utterly dependant stage.

The theme, ‘Choose life!’,  is a call to us all, a challenge. And we are asked to make this call to ‘choose life’ the subject of fervent, confident prayer for the next month, between today and the feast of All the Saints of Ireland, November 6.

When Jesus saw that the disciples were turning away the people who were bringing the little children to him for his blessing, Jesus we are told in today’s Gospel, ‘was indignant, and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs’. These are very strong words and very clear. Little children are at the heart of God’s scheme of things.

And Jesus goes on to say: “‘I tell you most solemnly: anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’. Then he put his arms around them, laid his hands on them, and gave them his blessing”

Words and actions like this from Jesus leave us his followers with a very clear message and an example we must follow. The protection of the little child is what we are about as community and as individual men and women.

We now know that from the moment of conception onwards a new, unique and genetically complete human being comes into existence. From that moment onwards we did not grow and develop into a human being, but grew and developed as a human person. Science is very clear about this today. And like so many of the discoveries of science it leaves us amazed and full of wonder….

So as the statement from the Bishops puts it today, ‘A child in the womb is not a ‘potential’ human life, but rather a human life with potential’. We are, each of us here this morning, that potential realised to a great – or at least to some –  extent.

This country is consistently one of the safest countries in the world for a woman who is expecting a baby. To legislate for abortion denies the dignity of the child in the womb and is a violation of the most fundamental human right of all, the right to life. Contrary to what many commentators have asserted, our government does not have to legislate for abortion in order to comply with European Court rulings. On the contrary our Government can choose to legislate to protect the life of the child in the womb, while upholding the equal right to life of the mother.

As Christians, we seek to live like Jesus. Our hearts like his must go out to protect and care for all human life when it is threatened. And we include in this any and every woman who finds herself carrying a baby in difficult or unwanted circumstances. It was this imperative that brought about the establishment of CURA decades ago, a service that supports and stays with any expectant mother who finds herself in such a threatening situation. And we must also be there for women who have gone through with an abortion. Our mercy must match that of Jesus in these circumstances, and we will always welcome home any person who stands in need of understanding and compassion. ‘Come to me’, Jesus said, ‘all you who labour and are overburdened…’

So today we fervently pray for the strength and courage to go against the tide, and to stand for the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable, the child in the womb.

We pray equally fervently for all who may find themselves in the threatening and fearful situation of unwanted pregnancy. That with God’s help we may always find a way in every circumstance to protect every precious life, every child and every mother.

‘Then Jesus put his arms around them, laid his hands on them, and gave them his blessing’.