Today's Gospel message is the story of the 99 sheep and the one lost and how the shepherd will go look for that lost sheep and be jubilant when it is found. I have always found great comfort in this scripture, because is demonstrates the lengths to which God will go to bring us back to the fold. I mention this because as I read the incoming news messages from the various feeds in my e-mail, I occasionally encounter comments from someone who espouses "reproductive freedom" for women and whose comments are full of anger, emnity, maybe even hate and a real lack of compassion for those who do not believe as they do. Part of what I find so disconcerting is the violent language that they use against their particular target that day. The "choice" folks are so vociferous about everyone understanding their belief but do not understand the contradiction in their refusal to allow others of us to hold similarly stong beliefs about the need, the charge, the command to honor the "seamless garment of life." Of course, the "life side" hasn't helped this discussion with its proponents who claim violence in behalf of their cause as well.
I miss the compassionate and moderate voice of Cardinal Bernadin who first proposed this consistent ethic of life in January, 1984, at a lecture at Fordham University and then amplified it on March 11, 1984, at a lecture in St. Louis. Unfortunately, many of our pro-life folks have been successful in narrowing our focus to the single issue of abortion and all of its ramifacations. I sincerely believe that we need to harken back to that day in 1984 and re-exame Cardinal Bernadin's comments and fully understand just how comprehensive our belief in the life issues of today must be to fuflly realize the validity and truth of our position on life. For God did not create a minisicule, singular entity with a narrow range of vision. He created us in "our image" and that behooves us to understand just how comprehensive our practice must be.
We must include all of life in our efforts, for to do otherwise ends in the political position that we find ourselves today: a party in control of legislation who says that they suscribe to life issues, but in reality ignore the large expanse that is Catholic Moral Tradition. Our Tradition is inclusive. When we narrow it down to a single issue, no matter how important, we indicate our willingness to give in on all of the other important issues that comprise our life on earth today. With all due respect to our leaders in this field who claim otherwise, I believe that the good Cardinal had it right, much more so that any of us admit.
Our challenge, our call, or mission is to promote the entire value of life from its natural beginning to its natural end. WE CANNOT COMPROMISE ON THIS TENET !!!! All of life is precious and must be protected from attacks it receives from secular society and the "throwaway culture" of today's world. Unborn babies, poor children, homeless, unemployed, immigrants, and so on and on are part of our comprehensive and grace filled ministry. When I look back at the charge from the Old Testament prophets, they always say "take care of the widows, the alien, and so on". God has always been consistent. He loves all of us equally well. How, then, can we do any less. When we single out a single issue (repetition intended) we say that some are less important of our prayer, action, and ministry. That is just not so. Our faith is a comprehensive one - NOT a single issue. Our God calls us to love all equally well, not just some.
And so back to the coarse language of the "repoductive freedom" author from yesterday: we must love her with the same gracious, caring compassion that we do the pre-born child. We must extend our compassion to all who need a deserve our care. We must believe and live a CONSISTENT ethic of life to properly fulfill our obligation to love God and others.
May God Give You Peace!