Youth Rally and Mass for Life 2012 Homily from the Verizon Center Event
Text of the Homily from Msgr. Charles Pope
January 23, 2012
WHAT - Life is Sacred.
To say that something is sacred is to say that it belongs especially to God; to say that it’s God’s property. It means to say, “Be careful, this belongs to God.”
Well I want you to know that You belong to God, that you are sacred, that your life is sacred. And we are here today to say that all human life is sacred. Turn to somebody and say, “I’m somebody!” I’m a holy, holy, child of the King, thank God I’ve been redeemed!” Yes, your life is sacred, you belong to God. And so does every human person around you. You, and everyone you see here are a work of God, you are his, you are the fruit of His love.
Scripture says, “Before I ever formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1:4).
Now we say that life begins at conception. And medically we are right. But there is also a great mystery about your life that some how it stretches back, long before you were created. BEFORE I formed you in the womb, says the Lord, I knew all about you. I thought about you and already loved you. And I set into motion everything that would be necessary to create you. I didn’t just get your parents to meet, I got your grandparents, and your great Grandparents, and your great, great, great, great grandparents to meet all in the right combination on both sides of your family, and I had you in mind the whole time!
Again, Scripture says. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, says the Lord; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness. (Jer 31:3).
Yes, God has always loved you, from all eternity he has know you and loved you. That’s true of everyone here, and everywhere, and every child in every womb in this whole world.
And of the children in the womb, and all of us who have been in our mother’s womb Scripture says,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. Your eyes saw my unformed body.
And every one of my days were written in your book before one of them ever came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
SO WHAT – Do you see? God knows us and loves before we are made. And he knows every thing we will ever do. And then out of love and as a direct decision of his very own he creates us and personally knits us together in our mother’s womb. Human life is sacred. It is holy. We are God’s.
There is no one here who is a surprise to God; no one who is an accident. And there is no child in any mother’s womb anywhere in this world right now, who is a surprise, an accident or an inconvenience to God. Every human person is loved by God, willed by God and desired by God. (Someone say, “I belong to God…I am God’s work).
And no one can claim the right to destroy human life in the womb, to snatch the knitting from God’s hand and say, this is a mistake, this is inconvenient, this shall not be! Abortion doesn’t just say no to life, it says no to God.
There’s a line from an Old African American spiritual that says, “Some go to Church for to sing and shout. But before six months they’s all turned out.” In other words, I’m glad you’re here today, and I’m glad we can celebrate that life is good and Life is sacred. Praise the Lord! But the bigger question is, “What will you be doing tomorrow, and next week, and six months from now?” Some go to Church for to sing and shout…Before six months they’s all turned out. Yes, that’s all it really was, a lot of singing and shouting. That was good! But now what?
Now I want to give you a few important things to do after this day is over. And I want you to remember what the Lord said in the first reading. He said simply “Choose life.” And that’s a big and fundamental decision: I am for life, I respect the dignity and sacredness of human life. But like any fundamental choice, it has to be support by many smaller and daily choices. We can’t just shout “Pro-life” we have to live it daily.
And how? Let me give you a few things to think about: Chastity, Charity, Courage, Constancy
CHASTITY – Did you know that 85% of abortions of performed on unmarried women? Now think about that. That means that the primary cause of abortion is being unchaste. The bible is very clear that we are not to have sexual relations before, or outside of marriage.
Now one of the first ways you can work to prevent abortion is to be chaste and to encourage your friends to do the same! To be chaste means that you are going to wait until you are married to have sex. To be chaste means that you will dress modestly, act modestly, and prudently avoid situations that might cause you temptation. It means you are going to encourage your friends to do the same. Some may laugh at you. Others call you names. But a lot of them will respect you for it and know deep down inside that you are right. So keep at it. Chastity isn’t easy and there are a lot of temptations and pressures put on you in this world. But stay chaste and call on your friends to do the same.
Remember 85% of abortions are performed on unmarried women. Again, that means that the main cause of abortion is that men and women are being unchaste. And if we want to end abortion we have to talk a lot more about chastity and live it! If you want to say you’re pro-life you have to commit to being chaste and proclaim it loud and clear. St Paul said in the second reading today: set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity!
CHARITY – Another statistic about abortion is that 42% of them are performed on poor women. So I hope you understand that we have to reach out to pregnant women in crisis. Some of them lack financial resources, some others fear the social consequences of being pregnant. And because they are in crisis they don’t think they have options. So we have to reach out and help women and families in this situation. And the Church does! We have crisis pregnancy centers, we have project Gabriel and project Rachael. We also have Catholic Charities to reach out to all the poor and help them. And as you get older please consider helping the Church to help women and families in crisis. Get involved. Remember almost half of abortions are related to poverty and social crisis. We can’t just say no to abortion, we have to help people say no.
COURAGE – I also want to tell you that there is a connection to the disabled. These days most babies in the womb are monitored for birth defects and disabilities. And one of the great tragedies in our day is that, when families receive word that their baby may have Downs Syndrome or other defects or disabilities almost 90% of them choose to abort that child. It’s a kind of hidden genocide.
Disabilities and the demand for “perfect” babies are a big factor in the decision to abort. So I want to ask you to pray that God will give you and all a deep love and respect for the disabled. They bring important gifts to us. My own sister was disabled and died over 20 years ago. But I want to tell you that she brought important gifts to our family and taught me lessons I will never forget. Never conclude that someone else’s life is not worth living. It takes courage to accept the disabled into our families, but they are God’s gift, and their lives are precious and sacred to God.
CONSTANCY – Finally, keep marching, keep walking keep talking! A Gallup poll said last year that we are making progress. It said that 61% of Americans now think abortion should be illegal most if not all the time. That’s up a lot from 20 years ago. Our godly struggle to win the hearts and minds of Americans is working, little by little. It’s a long an uphill journey, but we’re getting there!
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of those willing to be coworkers with God.
So remember today’s Rally and March are like a mountaintop experience for us. We rejoice to declare that human life is sacred and that we exist as the result of a loving decision by God. But remember too, Some go to Church for to sing and shout, before six months they’s all turned out. So, don’t just shout today, be pro-life in your decisions tomorrow and six months from now. Chastity, Charity to the poor and those in crisis, Courage and care for the disabled, Constancy in our witness and practice.
And as we head to the promised land of an increasingly abortion free America I’m mindful of an Old Spiritual that says, Walk together children, don’t you get weary, there’s a great camp meeting in the promised land. Yes, the song goes on to say: work together children, pray together, sing together, shout together children…there’s a great camp meeting in the Promised Land.
Now make a joyful shout for life!
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