3rd Sunday OT 2012:
I'm sure that at the time January 22, 1973 seemed like just any other day. I'm sure people were going to work, going about their lives. However, America would change forever that day. A day that has cost more American lives than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. Of course, I'm talking about the Roe vs. Wade decision. This is the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. For 39 years abortion has been legal in America. If you will bear with me, I would like to speak about abortion, an unpopular subject, to be sure, but one that is too important to leave undiscussed.
Abortion brings great sadness. I hope that at some point in the future, Roe vs. Wade is overturned. I long for the day when abortion ends. For many people abortion is a political issue, it's liberal versus conservatives, etc. But, abortion is not about politics, it's about those babies, it's about those mothers, it's about the pain and suffering that abortion causes. If we think of it as a political issue, we will forget why we should all want abortion to stop. We should want abortion to stop because it kills children and hurts women on an emotional and physical level.
What can we do? Our readings today give us some insight into the process of conversion. And it is precisely conversion that is necessary. I certainly think that we should all hope that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe vs. Wade at some point. But, in the meantime, all of us should pray for the conversion those who supports abortion and what John Paul II called the culture of death. We should pray for peace and healing for anyone who has ever been involved in an abortion. But, how can we help facilitate conversion? What can we do? I think we need to see ourselves as prophets. We need to take up the cause, and do what we can. I think every prophet needs two basic things. First, a prophet needs motivation; second, a prophet needs a content.
First, our motivation: abortion is just wrong. There is just no way to argue that the person in the womb is not a person, they just happen to be small and silent. But, it might take some convincing for us to become prophets of this truth. We might be a bit daunted by this task. Doesn't it sometimes feel impossible to change? I think it can be easy to become a bit hopeless when we think about the uphill battle we have in front of us. For 39 years abortion has been legal. Millions of people in America support abortion, many of our elected officials support abortion. How can we make a change? I think we need to keep Jonah in mind. He was one man, one prophet. His preaching caused the huge city of Nineveh to repent, to change. What might seem impossible by human standards is possible for God. Let's use the example of Jonah as our motivation, knowing that great things are possible by the grace of God.
But what to preach? The gospel can really help us here. Have you ever stopped to think about what happens in the gospel story? Here is Jesus walking by these people who were busy at work, carrying on the normal course of their lives. He says something to them: come follow me, and they drop everything to spend the rest of their lives with Jesus. Isn't that amazing! Christ offered them something so beautiful, so compelling, so wonderful, that they dropped everything and followed him. What does he offer? Himself! Come follow me, be with me, live with me, I will make you fishers of men, I will change you, I will make you better people. Notice that Jesus doesn't criticize, ostracize, or condemn. Jesus doesn't start by saying: hey there, you are all a bunch of sinners. Jesus does not move their hearts by drawing their attention to what is wrong with them. Rather, he offers them something compelling: he offers them the beauty of his own truth.
As pro-life prophets we need to do the same thing. It is so easy to get caught up in the negative side of abortion. It is easy to get angry when we hear numbers and statistics. But, shouting and criticizing will not bring about conversion. If all we use in the debate about abortion is the darkness of abortion, we just end up spreading more darkness and our prophecy ends up quite negative. Rather, our message must be about Christ, the beauty of human life, the goodness of human sexuality, the joys of family life, and the happiness that comes from Christian discipleship. Our message must be a message of love, forgiveness, healing, and mercy. In short our message must be Christ.
As pro-life prophets we need to keep the image of Jonah before us. We need to keep hope alive. We need to participate in this great work, even in the face of long odds. But, as we do so, we should always remember the lesson Christ teaches us, that only the beauty of the truth can change the heart. Only Christ and his truth can cause people to leave behind their former way of life and follow him. This might seem like a daunting task, we might never see the end of abortion in America, how can we keep up this mission? The words of Jesus speak to us as well: come to me. Here in the Eucharist we come to Jesus and ask him for the strength to make us fishers of men and women, to make us prophets who work for the healing of our land.