Three weeks ago, on the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, Jesus was first revealed as the savior of all nations. Three men were led by a star to the baby whom God had sent to save not only Jews but foreigners as well. But you know, we continue to be surrounded by epiphanies even today. For instance, awhile back a woman was almost arrested in Oklahoma and charged with the desecration of a human corpse after she had a natural miscarriage and tried to flush the body down a toilet at Walmart — not a good thing to have done, even though the baby was already dead.
But you know, until recently it would have been legal in Arkansas for her to pay to have an abortionist kill her still-living pre-term infant and dismember its corpse, so long as the body was disposed of properly and not at Walmart. The body of her baby was legally a human corpse for only one reason: because it died without the help of an abortionist. Shouldn’t that have opened a few people’s eyes? What is more important? A child’s life or a child’s corpse?
Today after 50 years we can now rejoice that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, but we still have a long way to go to build a culture of life, and so to respect, protect and cherish the life of every human person in every circumstance throughout the whole span of life. Make no mistake about it: abortion will continue to be available. Women will be able to travel to states where abortion remains legal — and indeed, right here in Arkansas, Walmart has apparently expanded their employee abortion coverage to include even abortion-related travel expenses! Moreover, most abortions now are chemical abortions and with telemedicine women can have abortion pills shipped in from out of state. And of course, sadly there will always be desperate women who try to do it themselves or rely on bad information, especially from the internet, and end up harming themselves badly.
So, we have a long way to go. And it is obvious that to be successful, our pro-life work has got to be rooted in prayer. Favorable court decisions and favorable legislation can help, but they will not solve the problem. Only a conversion of heart will work. The purpose of any epiphany is to get us to think and act differently, and in this regard, we Catholics are obligated to do all in our power to open our own eyes and the eyes and hearts of our fellow citizens to what God is asking of us today regarding the full range of pro-life issues, which will only happen once people begin to take seriously the human side of the issues we face. It is one thing to argue about abortion in the abstract, but it is quite another to have a heart-to-heart with a grief-stricken woman who now has a wound deep inside that just will not heal. That sort of encounter with the interior devastation caused by abortion can humanize the issue and possibly reach people through their hearts, even those who have otherwise closed their minds to Jesus’ Gospel of Life. Indeed, this is the most effective approach to take, whatever the issue: be it immigration, health care, the death penalty, you name it. To be effective, we must treat everyone with love and respect as we invite people to let down their defenses and let Jesus speak to their heart.
If we succeed in putting a human face on the issues before us, we can enable Jesus’ Gospel of Life to have a decisive — positive — impact on the future of our country. We’re not just anti-abortion. We’re pro-life on every matter that touches on our God-given dignity as human beings created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ: in the womb and throughout life, all the way to natural death.
Jesus’ Gospel of Life offers us our only hope for a more humane future, and today on this 50th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, he invites us to continue his as-yet-unfinished work of building God’s kingdom of truth and justice, in our world today.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Jan. 22 at the annual Mass for Life in Little Rock.
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