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2/3/19 Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

We have just heard some of the most beautiful words in all of Sacred Scripture. God spoke them to the prophet Jeremiah more than two thousand years ago, but that same God – our Lord – made sure that they weren’t forgotten when Jeremiah died. He inspired the sacred writer to record them for all time. He wanted to make sure that we would hear those same words spoken to us, twenty-five centuries later. That’s what the Bible is, remember: God’s inspired and living word, meant to enlighten, encourage, and strengthen each one of us in every situation of our lives. And if we let these incredible words really penetrate our hearts today, that’s exactly what will happen.

Which words am I referring to? These: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.” Let me read them again, pausing after the word “you,” so that each of us can insert there our first name, because that’s how God wants us to hear these words: “Before I formed you [pause] in the womb I knew you [pause], before you[pause] were born I dedicated you [pause].” None of us is here just by chance, as the Darwinists want us to believe. None of us is an unwanted mistake, as the pro-abortionists would like us to believe. None of us is a just a toy or experimental product manufactured by scientists, as the cloning-advocates and artificial reproduction companies seem to think. Each one of us is a beloved, desired child of the living, eternal, all-wise, all-powerful God of the universe.

We have received our existence directly from him; if from all eternity he had not yearned for our friendship and envisioned a lasting purpose for each of us, we would not be here.

That is the dignity of human life – every human life, mine and yours included.

No matter what the news reporters and spin doctors say, this is what’s really at stake in the abortion debate. No one denies that unwanted pregnancies can cause pain, anguish, and hardship, which is why the Church does so much for unwed mothers, and which is why each of us should show true compassion and Christian charity to parents faced with that situation, and also to those who may have made the wrong choice and had an abortion. But the challenges of unwanted pregnancies don’t change the reality that every human life is precious and purposeful in God’s eyes. We may make mistakes, but God doesn’t.

God didn’t just use words to tell us this; he also showed it to us in the Incarnation, as this poem about a pregnant, unwed mother illustrates:

 A slip of a girl from a very small town,

Where gossip was quick to drag the best down;
A girl that was single was having a baby,
It was certainly a sin; no if, but, or maybe.

No way to explain an illegitimate child;
The rumors were swift, they began to run wild.
She led a good life, she tried not to sin;
But her neighbors now thought how terrible she'd been.

The man she would marry, now what would he say?
How would she tell him? It would sure ruin his day.
No DNA test; there was no need to bother.
She knew her betrothed could not be the father.

She was such a young girl; this time in her life,
A baby could bring her nothing but strife.
A marriage was planned, and a trip far away;
Her love was a carpenter with very poor pay.

So if he would have her no matter her plight,
How would they survive with a budget so tight?
He was such a good person; a very nice man,
But when he found out would he understand?

Her friends were so quick to give her advice;
No man would want her no matter how nice.
"Before he finds out," they said, "there's no doubt,
We tell you as friends take the easy way out!"

"After all, it's just tissue; it's not yet a life.
Why should it cause you inconvenience and strife?"
She knew what they called “just fetal demise”
Was the death of a child in God's Holy eyes.

And she knew a great sin it surely would be,
Not just against God but humanity.
What a terrible world of hate and distortion,
If Mary of Nazareth had had an abortion.

 God is the Lord of human life, which he considers so precious that he took it upon himself in Mary’s womb.

He alone is the one who gives life, and it is not our place to take it away.

[This Poem is by R. Wayne Edwards, wayne@familypoet.com]

This truth, that every human being is personally desired and loved by God, is at the very core of Christ’s revelation.

But today’s globalized world is in danger of losing sight of it, because popular culture is no longer Christian, but secular, as the spread of crimes like legalized abortion, embryonic stem-cell harvesting, and euthanasia clearly shows. But there are also more subtle manifestations of secularization too. For example, in a culture that has forgotten the source of human dignity, people start to question the meaning of their own existence, and they become vulnerable to paralyzing stress, discouragement, and even depression. And this can overflow into our lives too, even though we haven’t forgotten the fact of God’s love and purpose towards us.

This is why it is so important for each one of us to have a daily God-time, to spend ten or fifteen minutes every single day alone with God, reading and reflecting on his Scriptures or some other solid, Catholic book, and speaking to him in heartfelt prayer.

If we don’t cultivate this personal friendship with God, we will start to fall into spiritual routine, Holy Communion will become superficial, Mass will become boring, we will stop recognizing sin in our lives and stop going to confession.

And then we may start to think like everybody around us, drifting into the mentality that sees life’s real purpose as making money, or being popular, and enjoying the world’s pleasures, or having more success than the other guy. But that’s not what life’s about. Life is a journey towards eternal union with God, the only source of lasting satisfaction.

As we continue with this Holy Mass, let’s thank God for reminding us of how much we matter to him, and let’s promise that this week we will give him the opportunity, every single day, to keep reminding us.


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