With God, life will prevail: Roe anniversary a summons to spiritual, cultural and legal battle
Jan. 21, 2019
One Sabbath Day, Jesus entered a synagogue and encountered a man with a withered hand. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on Jesus, and they watched to see whether He would heal the man on the Sabbath. Jesus did not act immediately, but rather posed this question to the assembled people, and especially to the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (Mark 3:4).
Jan. 22 marks the 46th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, as well as a national “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” And the question Our Lord asked in the synagogue is precisely the question at the heart of this tragic anniversary: Is it lawful to save life rather than to destroy it?
We in the Archdiocese of Detroit are rightly proud of the local Catholics who were in Washington, D.C., this past weekend for the annual March for Life. They gave powerful and beautiful witness to God’s own answer to the question of Jesus. Every human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, is His gift and deserves legal protection.
Yet despite the fact that many tens of thousands of fellow pro-life citizens marched, we know that to worldly eyes they can look very much as David looked to Goliath (1 Samuel 17), to draw on another biblical story. And many worldly people hold those who walk in the March for Life in contempt, just as Goliath mocked David and held him in contempt.
And in worldly terms, we pro-lifers are “David.” But we can also look to David as a model for supernatural reasons, and have confidence. David defeated the fearsome giant Goliath not because of any physical ability he possessed, but because he acted as God’s instrument.
In worldly terms, we pro-lifers are “David.” But we can also look to David as a model for supernatural reasons, and have confidence. David defeated the fearsome giant Goliath not because of any physical ability he possessed, but because he acted as God’s instrument.
It is important to remember that David's zeal was enkindled not by battle-lust or patriotism, or even exclusively by the physical threat of the Philistine army, but rather by Goliath's impiety. Early on in the story, Goliath mocked the armies of Israel, leading David to say of him: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should insult the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26; emphasis added).
Abortion is murder, but it is also an act of impiety. It “mocks” the design of God not only by destroying natural life, but by denying the sacramental entrance of countless children into the life of the Church by Baptism. Yes, we can and do entrust these children to our loving and merciful Father, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (par. 1261), but it remains the case that abortion snuffs out the lives of millions of potential disciples and saints each year.
But God will not be mocked. His visible triumph may be long in coming, but it will come.
There is a passage from Evangelii Gaudium (par. 85) that I believe fits very well here. Though Pope Francis wrote these words regarding evangelization in general, I think they fit well with our mission to proclaim the Gospel of Life. The Holy Father writes:
“Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents. While painfully aware of our own frailties, we have to march on without giving in, keeping in mind what the Lord said to Saint Paul: 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Cor 12:9). Christian triumph is always a cross, yet a cross which is at the same time a victorious banner borne with aggressive tenderness against the assaults of evil.
We may have only the stature of David, and we may face a foe that in worldly terms is utterly fearsome and intimidating, but we must never lose heart. God will be victorious, and the right to life will be vindicated. In the meantime, we must be the heralds through whom God's will is given voice and, in a world that still clings to darkness and the shadow of death, we must be the instruments through which people's feet are guided into the way of peace (see Luke 1:79).
Fr. Charles Fox is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit currently assigned to the theology faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He is also a weekend associate pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Shelby Township and chaplain and a board member of St. Paul Evangelization Institute, headquartered in Warren.