My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Tonight we come, as we do each year this time — to pray for the unborn and to ask for the grace and courage to stand for life.
We entrust the souls of these innocent little ones into the hands of our loving God. May he give them peace and may their hope be full of immortality.2
There are many injustices in our society, but the most fundamental is the one we rarely acknowledge — this routine taking of innocent, unborn human life every day through abortion. So as we pray for these little souls, we pray tonight for our city, our state, and our nation.
This beautiful liturgy reminds us that the issue of abortion is not only about culture and politics. It is deeply personal for each one of us and for every human person. It is a moral issue, but it is also spiritual.
This evening in our second reading, we heard those powerful words from St. Paul:
I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. …
For the world in its present form is passing away.
St. Paul is reminding us that we need to live our lives with the proper perspective.
Our lives, my dear brothers and sisters, are not our own. This world is not our permanent home, we know that. Our faith tells us that we are only pilgrims, strangers and exiles on this earth. There is a time and a purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. We are here for a little while only and then we pass on.3
But not one of us — no one — has the right to decide who can live and who can die and when that time will come. It is true, we want to control everything, but we cannot. Only God! Only God — who is the Lord of our beginning and the Lord of our ending, can make the determination of the beginning and ending of life.
The right to life, as we know, is the foundation of every other right and liberty and the true foundation of justice and peace in society.
If the child in the womb has no right to be born, if the sick and the old have no right to be taken care of — then there is no solid foundation to defend anyone’s human rights.
This week, as we are remembering that tragic day when abortion was legalized in our nation, some of our leaders here in California introduced legislation to make it legal to kill the old, the sick and the disabled.
So let us pray and work that they will not be able to succeed.
We cannot allow the cruel logic that says that human life is disposable. It’s not possible that we allow that to continue happening in our society. The cruel logic that says that some lives are not worth living and some lives are not worth protecting.
And as we know, abortion and euthanasia are not only questions of faith and religion. They are basic questions of human rights and social justice. They are questions of what kind of society we are and what kind of people we want to be.
We know that a civilized society does not try to solve its problems by letting people kill themselves or by preventing people from being born. And we know that we do not want to become a people who respond to human suffering by eliminating the one who suffers.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, tonight, we pray for new courage and new conviction to proclaim this gospel of life in our society. And it is fitting that the readings we have heard tonight from Sacred Scripture call us to a new awareness of our mission as disciples.
The Lord is calling us and sending us out into our city and into world. Just as he sent Jonah to the great city of Nineveh, as we heard in the first reading:
Set out for the great city of Nineveh
And announce to it the great message
That I will tell you
He went through the entire city, preaching repentance, they repented and God forgave them.
And in today’s passage of the Gospel, Jesus calls the Apostles to become “fishers of men” and to follow him. Jesus said to them: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
So let us go forth tonight, and follow Jesus. To proclaim the Gospel of life. To love life and to serve life. Every life — especially those lives that need more care, more attention, those lives that can be a burden to others.
Pope Francis tells us that, “Anyone who is Christian,” he says, “has a duty to bear witness to the Gospel: to protect life courageously and lovingly in all its phases.”4
My dear brothers and sisters, we need to make taking care of one another the foundation of our lives as Christians. And the foundation of our society.
As long as there are Christians, no one should have to suffer alone!
So the unborn children we mourn this evening, died before they could even be given their names. But God knows their names. He has known their names since before the foundation of the world,
So let us ask Our Lady, Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of the Angels — to pray for these little ones and to pray for us. May she help us to honor their memory by building a culture of life in our time. So that everyone sees that life is a beautiful gift from God and that every life matters.
1. Readings (Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B): Jon. 3:1-5, 10; Ps. 25:4-9; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20.
2. Wisd. 3:1-9.
3. Eccl. 3:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 2:19; Heb. 11:13, 13:14-21.
4. Address to the Italian Pro-Life Movement (April 11, 2014).