RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY: A MESSAGE FROM CARDINAL SEAN O’MALLEY
My dear friends in Christ: Pope Francis has captivated the world with his humility, warmth and compassion for each person. Vivid accounts of his tenderness for “the least of these” our attention. Why? At the heart of each of these interactions is a truth which resonates in our hearts, revealing to us something essential to understanding ourselves and our purpose. We are loved.
In his 2013 Day for Life Greeting, Pope Francis conveyed that “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Pope Francis lives the truth of these words in his actions. We must be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only “choice.” . Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery. These tragedies go directly against respect for life, and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. Instead of “selfless love we are marginalized, uprooted and oppressed.
What can be done to prevent this? We must draw close to Jesus in prayer and in the sacraments. We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation. When God created each of us, he did so with precision and purpose, and he looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. We must look at ourselves and at others in light of this truth and treat all people with the reverence and respect which is due. The Church’s antidote to an individualism which threatens the respect for human dignity is community and solidarity. Are we moved by the suffering of those without shelter? Do we seek to alleviate the fear, confusion and panic that women facing unexpected pregnancies may be experiencing? Do our hearts ache for elderly patients in nursing homes who feel abandoned and unwanted, having no one to visit them? Our mission is to show each person the love of Christ. Each of these moments is valuable beyond our realization. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life.
As the 2014 Respect Life Program begins, let us take a moment to celebrate ourselves as reflected in this years theme: “Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation,” and live this truth in our understanding of ourselves and in the way we see others.
Our “Prayer Marathon” is now over. We celebrated 15 days of offering the parish opportunities to stand in the grace of God in prayer and fellowship: to allow God to “Heap Coals of Blessings on our Heads”. It was the most satisfying and invigorating experience I’ve personally had since coming to Our Lady of Angels. I know that those who came will continue to experience the “salvation” our God promises us in this life. My thanks to all those who worked so diligently and lovingly to make this happen.
What did we learn? To enjoy the blessings we’ve never thought we could have!! A Story: Weeks before the Freshman final exam the Professor told the students they could bring with them just one sheet of paper, but on the paper they could put as much information as they could. You can imagine how small and creative the information was on those papers. On the day of the exam one student brought in a blank piece of paper and laid it next to his desk. Next he waved his hand and signaled for someone to come in. An older graduate student walked confidently into the exam room and placed his two feet on the blank piece of paper. The student had all the help he needed for the exam!
Life has its share of ups and downs; and at times, it can be easy to let challenging circumstances keep you hindered and discouraged. Maybe you’ve faced some unfortunate, unfair or hurtful situations in your past. You could have disappointments or setbacks. And perhaps, the clock is ticking on your dream. But, as the graduate student was next to his friend helping him, Our Blessed Lady is right there next to you, reminding you that God is on your side, and nothing is beyond His ability to intervene. So regardless of where you are now, do not fear or falter like St. Peter did last week. Now is not the time for “COLD FEET” but it is the time for living the “Gift of Stewardship”.
My challenge last week was directly from the “Professor” himself, Our Lord God Yahweh. It was a demand and an invitation to trust, to pray, to recognize the blessing of our talents and to share all that we have and are. Giving back to God is the greatest way we thank God. It is the way we re-center ourselves and discover the awesome power of disciplining ourselves to God’s will.
You may say: I can’t do it. God answers: You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)
You may say: I’m afraid. God answers: I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2 Tim 1:7)
You may say: I’m not smart enough. God answers: I give you wisdom. ( I Cor 1:30)
For every excuse God has an answer and a blessing. You will run out of excuses long before God runs out of answers, love and challenges for you. Summer is quickly coming to a close: Enjoy it – Read the Good Book!!