October 15, 2017

October is Respect Life Month and this year’s theme, given to us by the U.S. Bishops, is “Be Not Afraid.” In their note with this year’s Respect Life material, the bishops write:

When battered by life’s storms, or immersed in a dense fog of suffering and uncertainty, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. Yet with words that echo through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, the Lord says to us, “Do not fear: I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).

He speaks these words not as one who merely observes our pain, but as one who experienced immense suffering. And the very wounds that bear witness to his suffering indicate the essence of our identity and worth: we are loved by God.

Reflecting on the healed wounds of the Risen Christ, we see that even our most difficult trials can be the place where God manifests his victory. He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new.

He is always with us. Jesus promised this when he gave the disciples the same mission he gives to each of us: Go.

‘Go be my hands and feet to a world enslaved by fear. Go to the woman who is unexpectedly pregnant and fears the future. Go to your friend who fears reprisal at work because he takes a stand for the protection of human life. Go to your aging parent in failing health who fears being a burden. And go to there, too, for their support.’

We don’t need to have everything figured out. We can simply follow the guidance of our Blessed Mother, the first disciple: ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (John 2:5).

Walk with each other. Do not be afraid to embrace God’s gift of life. Whatever storms or trials we face, we are not alone. He is with us.

These words can strengthen and reassure us as a community of faith as we recommit ourselves to the culture of life that we are called to embrace. That culture of life sees all of human life - from conception to natural death - as precious and sacred. The all-embracing nature of the Catholic view of respecting life can sometimes separate us from others who embrace only a portion of our teaching. It is in those times that we also need to hear the Lord saying to us: “Be not afraid.”

Our teaching on life does not fit easily into the agenda of one or the other major political parties in our country. Our respect for life includes the unborn, and the prisoner on death row. So, we advocate for the end to abortion as well as the end of the death penalty.

Our respect for life includes the one who is terminally ill, as well as the homeless person. So we advocate for those who are in pain at the end of their lives, as well as for those who have been left behind in our economy. So we advocate for effective pain management and accompanying those who are dying, as well as policies that address the needs of the poor and the homeless.

Our respect for life also includes the call to “Share the Journey” with migrants and refugees. We are called to see these people as our brothers and sisters who only desire a better life for themselves and their families.

During this Respect Life Month, may we be open to being more deeply formed by the Church’s broad approach to protecting human life. As we work on behalf of all those people whose life and dignity are threatened, may we hear the Lord saying to us: Be not afraid!

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni