It Is A Great Poverty To Decide A Child Must Die So You May Live As You Want!
Fr. Stephen Hellman – This month of October is a month in which the Church gives special reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary and in the United States it also is Respect Life Month where we give a special focus on the issues which revolve around life…And Mary our Mother, in her “fiat”, her yes to God when the angel Gabriel came to her at the Annunciation–Mary gives us the greatest example of faithful acceptance of God’s will, apart from that of Jesus himself, in all of Sacred Scripture and in all of human history, and it is from her yes, her faith in God, that she is given the privilege to bear in herself the New Life that is Jesus Christ.
So we see in Mary that faith gives life. So it’s no coincidence that the month of Mary and Respect Life month are one and the same, for great faith leads to a more profound and greater reverence for life and all three of our readings today speak a lot about faith and how it works in our lives.
What I want to focus on today is this first reading, from the Book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a minor prophet who lived during the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. and encouraged his fellow Jews to retain their faith during this disaster. What was the disaster? Jerusalem was overtaken by the Babylonians and brought under their rule. This “Babylonian Exile” lasted for 70 years from around 597 BC until 538 BC. And during this period, it was difficult for the Jews to maintain their traditions, to practice their religion without it being corrupted by the religious practices of the pagan conquerers. Some Jews succeeded in staying true to their faith during the period; some did not. Habakkuk interprets faith as a persistent confidence in God’s saving power and the first two chapters of the book of Habakkuk are in the form of a dialogue between Habakkuk and God where the prophet repeatedly complains and the Lord answers each time.
At times, Habakkuk is concerned and feels that the Lord is punishing his people too severely, and we heard today…
How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen! I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and clamorous discord.
But the answer from the Lord is always clear: maintain a steadfast faith and love for God, and you will receive God’s blessing. Then the LORD answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
You know, in many ways, the last part of this statement really goes so much to the heart of what it means to have faith. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live. Many times, we see this today, faith is really the opposite of rashness. Rashness consists in allowing ourselves to be pushed and prodded by forces outside of ourselves, by allowing our emotions, our impulses–sometimes the people around us–to drive us to do things that in our heart if we really think about it, when we calmly consider it, just aren’t right. Did you know that the Alan Guttmacher Institute puts the “hard cases” of abortion — for rape or incest, or the health of the mother, or for birth defects — at less than 1% of all abortions? Over 99% of abortions are for social or economic reasons, according to the abortion industry analysts themselves. And according to some studies, the majority of women who have abortions, feel rushed or uncertain when they undergo the abortion, and as many as 64% felt pressured by others to obtain the abortion…
Is that liberation? Is that autonomous and free decision-making that enhances women’s rights? No. That’s not authentic womanhood. That’s not authentic personhood. That’s the rashness that we heard about in the Book of Habakkuk: The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
Such rashness is opposed to faith. In faith, we maintain our connection to the sacredness of human life, and like Habakkuk in times of difficulty we stand up for the good and the true, and in our culture today that means recognizing that abortion harms both the babies who are aborted and the women who have abortions. You know, if you want to imagine the problem of abortion in this country consider this: 125 innocent babies are killed by abortion every hour in the United States. And that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of the number of students at St Vincent de Paul School, isn’t it?
So, imagine if you had a child at school here and you dropped him or her off at 8 a.m. and then came back an hour later, and the whole school was gone–that’s what happens in the U.S. every day… Every hour the entire population of St Vincent de Paul school is aborted in our country, and that’s 125 emotionally and spiritually scarred women as well. Is there any question that the lives that are taken are innocent human lives? And as I said, over 99% of the abortions are for economic or social reasons; only a very, very, very small percentage of the cases are for rape or incest, or for the health of the mother, or for birth defects. No doubt these situations are tragic. And there’s no doubt that the economic and social pressures can seem very real for many women, and these can be very painful decisions, and yet, when made due to economic and social pressures… these are still rash decisions.
Mother Teresa, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who knew about social and economic deprivation, said it best: “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” If you are Catholic and you consider yourself pro-choice, I urge you: pray about this. Go to the former abortion clinic — and now pro-life museum — Claire’s Hope on Sage Avenue in Mobile and learn… and then ask yourself if you really can turn a blind eye to this issue. The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.
Lord, as we come to the Eucharist today — where you willingly allowed for your body, innocent, to be destroyed for the sake of our salvation. Lord, we pray for an end to the evil of the practice of abortion, and for the conversion of those who support abortion and who believe that abortion is an acceptable option, and we also pray for emotional and spiritual healing for all women who have had abortions. AMEN.