27th Sunday in OT (October 2, 2016)

27th Sunday in OT (October 2, 2016)

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of thinking or feeling that things in life or in the world have just gotten turned upside down or are falling apart—and with this we may struggle to know or trust in God’s presence in the midst of it all.  If we’re not careful, this can lead us into despair, to feeling like there is no hope, no hope for a bright future.

This experience is certainly not novel.  The situation that the prophet Habakkuk is dealing with in our 1st Reading is that the people of Jerusalem were facing the destruction of their city and themselves by the Babylonians.  They wondered why God wasn’t doing anything, and feeling abandoned they questioned if God even cared for them at all anymore, if He really existed at all.

Perhaps this might sound familiar.  It’s an easy leap to make when outside forces or situations are pressing down on us.  Yet sometimes the evil and destruction that moves us to lose hope comes from something that we are caught up in, that we have a hand in.  The sense of guilt and shame that accompany this can be immense, so difficult perhaps that one might feel abandoned by God and the Church, or maybe even feel unforgiveable/beyond God’s love and mercy.  Today we focus on the fact that this includes many who have experienced the pain of abortion.

When someone is ill, a good doctor will first accurately diagnose the problem, and then apply the remedy. So too, the ministers in the field hospital of the Church must diagnose accurately the sin in order to then apply the healing remedy of God’s mercy.  So we do not deny the gravity of sin that abortion is.  It’s an intrinsic evil: always wrong and never a good.

“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.” [CCC 2258]  “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” [CCC 2270]  This is non-negotiable for us.

Yet as Pope Francis has preached, “The greater the sin, the greater the love that must be shown by the Church to those who repent. With how much love Jesus looks at us! With how much love He heals our sinful heart! Our sins never scare Him.”  “No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; everyone knows the way to access it and the Church is the house where everyone is welcomed and no one is rejected. Her doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace may find the assurance of forgiveness.” [Homily, 13 March 2015]  It is our mission to reflect the face of the Father’s mercy, Jesus Himself, especially to those who are most in need of it.  The members of our family of faith who have been affected by abortion deserve a greater experience compassion and a renewed sense of belonging and welcome. 

Perhaps this might seem like too big a task for us.  But even what might seem like only mustard seed-sized faith—only a little trust in the presence of God and openness to what God wants to reveal, do, and make us become—can be used by God to turn us into servants who do what needs to be done.  As pro-life people, we should be aware that we will almost always be near those who have been involved in abortion. Many who choose abortion do so under duress; being pressured by others and believing they have no other option.  By listening to the stories of those wounded by abortion and expressing sorrow for their loss, we can witness to their child’s life and affirm their right to grieve. We should take special care to use words of love and mercy, rather than judgment and condemnation. And we should always be ready to mention the help that is available. [Catholic Charities Website]

If you have been involved with abortion in any way, please know that you are loved by God, and reconciliation and healing are available.  Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s diocesan-based ministry to those suffering in the aftermath of abortion. The nationwide ministry helps mothers, fathers, family members, friends, and people of faith or no faith who seek compassionate, non-judgmental help. [Catholic Charities Website: catholiccharitiesnwo.org/project-rachel/]  The national Project Rachel website is hopeafterabortion.org.  Our local Project Rachel ministry is actually having a retreat coming up on October 29.  More information is in the bulletin today.

As we encounter the Lord in a special way in our Mass today, let us pray that we can continue to grow as people of faith who know and share the never-ending mercy of our good God.