“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” MK 3:22-30
No need to state the obvious.
Here in America – indeed, across the globe – we as a people are divided over a fundamental disagreement about life.
When does life begin? When does it end? Who is in control?
The questions are debated. Arguments are made. Families are divided. So, too are nations and churches.
People march in the streets. They carry signs. They sing, chant and shout.
Meanwhile, in the background of all that noise hangs the life of an innocent child. Snug and warm in his mother’s womb – like Jesus once was within Mary – they await the chance to take that first breath.
Will she or he ever get that chance?
Today on the Church’s Liturgical calendar, the Catholic Church recalls the anniversary of a court decision in the United States of America that legalized abortion on demand. The Church prays for the “Legal Protection of Unborn Children” today.
Too many times in our history, we’ve seen the tragedies that occur when a nation declares a certain segment of its population as “less than human” or expendable.
Interestingly, today is also the day we honor Sister Marianne Cope on our Church calendar. Saint Marianne – beatified by Pope Benedict in 2012 – is taking a bit of a back seat in the USA today, due to the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
But there are parallels in Sister Marianne’s work and the work we are called to perform today.
Turn back time to the late 1800s Hawaii, when a growing spread of leprosy prompted the government to create a colony of suffering and ultimate death on the island of Molokai. Claiming a need to stop the spread of the deadly disease, those who were diagnosed were quickly taken to the island, dropped off and legally declared dead.
There were no round-trip tickets for these souls … nor was there much in the way of medical care, love and compassion.
Sister Marianne, along with Father Damien and a layman named Joseph Dutton, were called to serve on Molokai. There, living among the sick and contagious, they ministered to a people that had been tossed away like garbage.
They treated them with dignity … the dignity that is due every living soul.
Since 1973, the United States has legally permitted society to label an unborn child – sick or not, male or female, rich or poor, white or black – as expendable.
Less than human.
Millions of unborn children have been lost and the Church has argued that the result has led to a “culture of death” … a culture that must be changed.
We pray today that individuals, families – and especially societies – will uphold the respect and dignity of life from womb to tomb, from natural birth to natural death. That includes the rich, the poor, the marginalized, the young, the old … those who are on death row, guilty or not, and those who have lost hope and seek to end their own lives through suicide or euthanasia.
We join our prayers with hundreds of thousands who will journey to Washington D.C. later this week to march in support of life. We pray with Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Agnostics, Atheists – all who respect life.
And we specifically pray for the reversal of Roe vs. Wade.
Lastly, we thank God for the gift of human life. And we pray that all people recognize that gift is sacred and should not be tossed away to an island in Hawaii … or taken out of a sacred womb.