October is Respect Life Month. During these days, we are called to reflect on the gift of life, our first gift from God, and to pray for a greater respect for human life throughout the world. Sadly, we know all too well that human life is not respected everywhere and by everyone. Gun violence kills far too many in our city and our nation. Terror and violence continue to plague our world. Refugees are forced to flee their homes because of the ravages of war. Slavery still exists throughout the world and in our own country and community as human trafficking. In our own nation, minorities and the poor are too often left behind in education and health care. The death penalty is still in force throughout our country. And far too many unborn children, who could enrich the lives of parents and families and communities, are aborted year after year.
What should be our response to this sad reality? I think our responses are going to be as varied as we are. Not one of us can do everything, but all of us are called to do something to promote the cause of human rights, human dignity, and human life. Some are called to advocacy, to speak to authorities, and to work for justice. Some are called to directly serve those who are suffering and to assist them in their need. Some are called to use their talents for writing, for organizing, for speaking, or for fundraising. All of us are called to prayer – to pray for those who suffer because they are not respected and to pray for a greater respect and love for all people.
On a previous Respect Life Sunday, Pope Francis shared these words, a beautiful meditation which I offer for your reflection and prayer:
Imagine yourself pausing in front of a design of great beauty. Your soul quiets and is filled with wonder and awe.
If art, created by man, can evoke such a response within us, how much more is the same wonder, reverence, and respect due to each person we encounter, who was handcrafted by the very God who spoke the world into being?
Now think of an artist stepping back from a great work of art and admiring his or her creation.
When God created each of us, He did so with precision and purpose, and He looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness.
Moreover, the Lord invites each of us to behold ourselves and each other with the same wonder and love.
No matter how the world might view us or others, let us treat each person as the masterpiece that he or she is.
Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn, and the poor are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.
I am grateful to the many parishioners of St. Margaret of Scotland who are devoted to the Respect Life effort, in a particular way, the members of our Respect Life Committee and our Living Justice Committee and Teams. Following our Ministry Fairs these last weeks, I hope that many more parishioners will share their time and talent as part of these ministries. Let us continue to pray and work for a culture of life!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and for a greater respect for human rights, human dignity, and human life!