It is perhaps one of the greatest countercultural acts of Christianity to proclaim, by words and deeds, the commandment given to us by Christ in today’s Gospel. “Love one another,” the Lord instructs us. “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples.” This is a countercultural message, because the society in which we live claims on the one hand to care for others, and on the other limits the expression of the dignity of the human person in ways that not only oppose the care of the individual but also, in turn, reduces our the standing of each of us; our own worth in the eyes of our fellow man. In this we might think of some obvious examples: the objectification of the human person, and especially women, in the murky world of pornography and prostitution; the reduction of the human person to a biological entity or an object lacking any “quality of life” in the arena of abortion and euthanasia; the manipulation of the human person in the attempt to eradicate the natural complementarity of man and woman, in the realm of so-called ‘gender theory’ and in the name of sexual equality. Each of these represents a veiled attempt on the part of contemporary society to offer a rebuttal to some perceived injustice whilst failing, fundamentally and absolutely, to recognize the monumental damage that is done by these actions, not simply to the individual objects of the actions themselves, but to the dignity of the human race: the means by which we view ourselves and each other.
This homily was given at the Good Counsel Network on the feast of Visitation.
It would be verging on the irresponsible to miss a chance to say something about today’s feast of the Visitation in the context of the important work you undertake here at the Good Counsel Network. Today we are met with two pregnant women whose children will not only change their lives, but the entire course of human history. In S. Elizabeth’s womb, the young S. John the Baptist leaps for joy as he first encounters Christ who, in the womb of Our Blessed Lady, draws the whole world to himself, even before his birth.
Not only is there a profound joy in the encounter between S. Elizabeth and Our Lady – blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! – but there is a deep sense of the reality of humanity, a deep sense that the encounter between the two women, is in fact a meeting of four people, even if S. John and Our Lord are hidden beneath the protruding bellies of their mothers. In some real way, the Gospel reminds us of the fundamental truth of the dignity of all human life.
The work you carry out here is an extension of this beautiful revelation. You are able, through what you do, to continue that Gospel of Life, drawing others to understand the basic fact that life is a sacred gift, not a manufactured commodity. In doing that, rooted in the Faith, you also present people unwittingly with Christ. Just like Our Lady, you bring him into their presence in a way that they may not even realise – hidden from view, but nonetheless entirely and really there. In acts of charity, and in those moments where you seem to be the only person who cares for a young woman in distress, your contribution is vital – not because it’s you there, but because you have the honour of bringing Christ to them, so that he can infuse their hearts and souls with his love and his grace.
So may God bless you and your work this day, as he so clearly does. May the prayers of S. Elizabeth, S. John the Baptist, and Our Lady, support you in all you undertake. And may Christ, hidden or in plain sight, continue to work through you his good news for the whole of mankind. Amen.
Today is Day 25 of 40 Days for Life and I’m privileged to have been asked to write this short meditation for those supporting this great initiative. Today’s intention is that those who carry out abortions may have their hearts converted. The text is Luke 23: 34: ‘And Jesus said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
It may be naive, but there must be some sense in which those who are involved with this most heinous of crimes against the dignity of human life, are unaware of the depth and seriousness of what they are doing. If they understood fully what was going on, what damage they were doing, then I cannot believe any human would be capable of carrying out this offence.
We rightly make public our opposition to these horrors, but in our hearts too, we must pray that those who are unable to see what they are doing might have their hearts converted. We read regularly of stories of abortionists who have had a conversion experience – often through the witness of a soul whose life has been cut short by them. We might, as a discipline that turns our anger into love – the only force which can bring about true change – pray that more such conversions might come about, as powerful expressions of the love of the Lord, whose incarnation brings a special dignity to the lives of all humans from conception to the natural death.
May the saints – whose lives show us the conversion we all require – support us in this task. And may the Lord use us as his instruments, to show his love to a world which so badly needs it, especially in these darkest of circumstances.
Let us pray.
Almighty and ever-living God, you show us in the lives of the saints the need we have of your mercy and grace, so that our hearts may be conformed to that of your Son. Grant, we pray, that the hearts of those who commit crimes against the dignity of human life, may be so infused with your love, that they may come to depend entirely on you and, in so doing, become the strongest advocates of your mercy and grace. We make this prayer through the same, Christ our Lord. Amen.