Two months ago to this day was the National March for life. Marching can put bodies to work while preparing minds to study important causes—just as birth itself puts a pregnant body to work preparing a mother to meet and feed the new life she’s bringing into the world. Even when humanity resorts to abortion to counter its pro-life programming, we can’t stop a pregnant body’s God-given way of preparing to birth new life, as the following sad testimonial of a mother’s abortion tells us:
She was surprised at her body’s reactions. She felt as though her body betrayed her by grieving, in spite of how her mind was made up, and even though she didn’t believe that the child was anything more than a clump of cells. Her breasts were tender and leaked milk. Her whole being was longing for the dead child. She couldn’t stop crying for days.–From “Betsy’s Abortion Story,” a subsection of an article called “Abortion Stories: Exploding the Myths of Consequence-Free Sex,” by Roseanne T. Sullivan in Homiletic & Pastoral Review (Sep 2019).
This sad story tells us that all lives have a destiny and a woman’s pregnant body was destined by God to immediately nourish that life on its way to its destiny. This Sunday’s readings tell us that God sees great value in all lives—even those many people might consider unimportant or even inconvenient. Take the great King David, for example. As the youngest of eight sons, he was considered unworthy to be presented before Samuel as a candidate for Kingship. In today’s world, as the eighth in a line of pregnancies, David’s gestation might have also have been considered unworthy and therefore cut short by a tired mother who thought, “Enough, already!” But in this account from the First Book of Samuel (1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a), we see that God saved his best kingly candidate for last.
Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any one of these.” Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him; we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.” Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them. He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance. The LORD said, “There—anoint him, for this is the one!” Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
David was last in a long line of births, but at least he had his health going for him. In today’s world, that means everything to parents. Today, when detected before birth, disabilities can be synonymous with defects, and defects point to a hard life ahead—so better to be merciful and choose to end that life before it begins, say some pro-choicers. Even in Jesus’ time, a physical congenital defect was seen as punishment for parental evil. But like the best 21st century managers, Jesus never saw problems, he saw only opportunity, as Sunday’s gospel reading proves (Jn 9:1-41).
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
Though legal in many cases, abortion is something that is still kept secret—hidden in the shadows of a parent’s life. But whether inconvenient or defective, a preborn life is a life-lesson God wants to bring to light. He uses such light because it has the power to project His truth, and we are to be sources of that light. Darkness is nothingness, and God brought us out of that to share his eternal life with humanity, as Paul tells us in Sunday’s second reading (Eph 5:8-14):
Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Being pro-life is being pro-light. Shining it on the truth is the best protection from the Virus of Evil.