Respect For Life by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/01/21 at 9:11 AM

• Before Jesus died, He founded a church on earth. And history bears witness to the fact that the church founded by Christ Himself is none other than the Catholic Church.

• And we know by faith that the full revelation of Christ’s truth has been entrusted to and preserved whole and entire by the Catholic Church. Vatican II teaches that while all churches and faith communities possess some share of the truth, only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth.

• This fullness of truth was first given by Jesus Christ to the apostles, and it has been systematically handed down from generation to generation and enshrined in our teachings, beliefs and in our liturgies and safeguarded by the Holy Spirit.

• This is what we believe as Catholics.

• And the truth of Catholic teaching is evident in the fact that our teaching is unchanging. While some teachings have developed and been further defined over the years, we still believe today what we believed 2000 years ago.

• Therefore, as Catholics we must be willing to speak out when it comes to truth. As St. Paul reminds us today, “God did not give [us] a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self‐control.”

• Thus, we must “not be ashamed of [our] testimony to our Lord,” but we should “bear [our] share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

• And never is this more important than when it comes to issues that concern human dignity and human life.

• On Respect Life Sunday generally every year priests preach about the horrors of abortion, human cloning, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research – all of the major threats to life.

• These are difficult topics because they’re highly politicized in our country, and opinions on these issues – even among practicing Catholics – tend to vary and to be emotionally charged.

• And these aren’t even all the Pro‐Life issues. There are other threats to the dignity of human life in the realm of sexual ethics. Issues like contraception and family planning and same‐sex unions also have implications for the dignity of human life.

• Of course, I think we all know where the Church stands on each of these issues. The Church has always been constant in opposing abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same‐sex unions, and contraception because of the threats they pose.

• In fact, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is the only institution that is constant in her opposition to all threats to human life and human dignity.

• Today I want to encourage you to courageously proclaim the truth of our Catholic beliefs, most especially when it comes to human dignity and human life.

• To do this, we must first understand both the philosophical and the spiritual issues that are at stake.

• I realize that for many people it is a difficult thing to believe and practice everything the Church teaches, especially when it comes to sexual ethics. And many Catholics struggle with or disagree with at least one of these pro‐life issues.

• But with issues that are as important as these, we must not simply allow our emotions to hold sway, nor must we allow ourselves to be formed by the liberal media and societal trends. We need to study these issues rationally, intellectually, and philosophically.

• It doesn’t matter what various states and countries choose to legalize. The legalization of an immoral act does not make it any less immoral.

• The basic reasoning behind the Church’s stance on any of these issues is derived from an understanding of human dignity.

• As Catholics we believe that each person is a special gift. Each of us is created in God’s own image and likeness. We are living images of the almighty Himself. And while we are all created in His image and likeness, we are all unique.

• While fully human, we were created with a divine purpose in mind. Specifically, we were created for eternal union with God! We also have intelligence and free will.

• Therefore, we have a particular dignity that other forms of life do not have. And all of us are “good” because of how we’re created. Each human life shows forth God’s goodness in a unique way.

• Thus, our faith teaches that human life in all its forms, from conception to natural death, must be respected for the unique gift it is. It makes no difference if a person is old and sick and dying or not even born yet. All human life possesses this special dignity, and therefore all human life is sacred.

• Because all life is sacred, the marital act by which life is created is also sacred, and therefore it is not to be misused. Moreover, the marital act has two purposes: first, the creation of new life; the other: for couples to grow in unity and holiness.

• Whenever we intentionally close this act to the possibility of life through contraception, sterilization, or aberrant or unnatural behavior, we change the nature of the act and rob the act of its inherent beauty, dignity, and sacredness.

• Moreover, when we use our God‐given freedom to destroy human life or misuse the gift of procreation, we rob ourselves and others of our God‐given dignity, and worse yet, we place ourselves at enmity with God. We separate ourselves from Him in a grave way.

• It is for these reasons that the Church teaches as She does on all of these issues.

• Spiritually speaking, at the root of all these threats to human life and human dignity are two terrible sins: pride and selfishness.

• It is a blinding pride that makes us believe that we know better than the Church, who was founded by Christ and whose teachings are safeguarded by the Holy Spirit. And it is wicked selfishness that induces us to pervert and misuse the marital act simply for our own pleasure.

• It is a monstrous pride that makes us believe that we can arrogate to ourselves the power of creating and destroying human life. It is the most insidious form of selfishness to kill an unborn baby because we fear the responsibilities of parenthood or simply find the child inconvenient.

• To be truly pro‐life, we must not only accept the Church’s teachings but also seek to be free from these forms of pride and selfishness. We must be humble enough to accept that all human life is a gift from God and therefore cannot be exterminated out of convenience.

• We must be humble enough to recognize that human sexuality is also a gift from God, that it comes with serious responsibility, and it is not to be misused for our own selfish reasons.

• And we must be generous: generous with our money to help those organizations that help promote a culture of life; generous with our time in praying for and working for pro‐life causes.

• And if we’re married and of child‐bearing age, we must ultimately be generous with our fertility. Having a large family is one of the best ways to witness to our Catholic beliefs on marriage and family life, and I think it’s wonderful that we have so many large families in our parish.

• My dear friends let us seek to defend and protect all human life by courageously proclaiming the truths of our Catholic faith, which alone can defeat the culture of death that so afflicts our society.

• Let us free ourselves from that pride and selfishness that hinder us from promoting a culture of life. And let us trust that our Lord will help us in this battle against the gravest evils in our society. May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever. Amen.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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