By Father Michael Mullins, pastor of St. Paul, Allentown.
Usually during this time of year there is a palpable longing for peace on earth and good will to all. However, we cannot simply wish peace and goodwill to all, we need to pray for it and work toward it.
It’s for this reason that I ask you to please remember the 4,000 Americans who were brutally killed yesterday, the 10,000 more who were exposed to chemical attacks and are expected to die within the next few days and the countless numbers of Americans who were forced into confinement.
It was not covered in the news media. This threat to peace and humanity didn’t occur in Iraq or Afghanistan. Instead, it happened on our own soil. It wasn’t terrorists. Instead, it was done by people claiming to provide health care. In fact, this tragedy has been going on every day for years.
The brutal deaths are the result of abortion. The Morning After Pill, or Plan B, initiates chemical attacks to create a hostile environment for the child in the womb. In vitro-fertilization creates multiple children and confines them in freezers or discards them like waste.
Human life begins at the moment of conception; a fertilized egg (zygote) has 46 chromosomes that distinguish the child as being different from the body of the mother.
Scientists have discovered the various stages of life in the womb: from the moment of conception to 5 days, the fertilized egg, also known as a zygote, travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. From day 5-10, the cells continue to multiply and form what scientists call a blastocyst. The fertilized egg isn’t considered an embryo until about 10 days after conception.
Scientists acknowledge that the fertilized egg will not grow to become a tree or a dog, but instead will grow to be an adult human. The area where scientists struggle is when the child becomes a person; when the soul enters the child.
To come to the aid of science, consider the amazing wonder of the Incarnation of our Lord. When the Virgin Mary learned from the angel Gabriel that she would conceive by the Holy Spirit, she went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant. The journey would have taken 2-5 days.
The Christ child wouldn’t have even been considered an embryo, but “when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:41-43).
Not only did Elizabeth recognize Mary as being pregnant at just 5 days, but she also knew that baby zygote Jesus was the Lord.
Unfortunately, too many people are ignorant like King Herod who felt threatened by a child. In the Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18 we hear how he ordered the massacre of the Holy Innocents, whose feast we celebrate on Dec. 28. Due to his actions, countless children were killed, mothers mourned and even King Herod suffered because he failed to encounter the love of the Christ child.
We hear how that pain and suffering endures: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more” (Matthew 2:18).
Violence does not bring about peace; for God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 33:11).
Nor does simply wishing good will to others bring about peace; for “if a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16).
Precious lives are at stake. If we desire true peace, who is Christ Jesus, then we are called to pray for peace and work toward it. St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary continually sought God’s Will but also acted on it so that together they welcomed, nourished, taught and prepared the way for the Christ child, Life Himself. Therefore, we too are to prepare the way, teach the truth and care for all human life.
Pray to the Lord of life. Pray for the Church, that she may continue to present a powerful and consistent message of the truth. Pray for our politicians that they may be enlightened by the truth and enact legislation protecting all human life from conception to natural death.
Pray for health care workers to truly care for women and their children. Pray for the youth that they may embrace chastity. Pray to consider if you are being called to adopt a child. Pray for pro-life organizations that help women choose life, like Mary’s Shelter.
Pray for the men and women who participated in abortions, that they may repent and heal through the Sacrament of Penance and through retreats like Rachel’s Vineyard. Pray for the unborn children who died, that they may enter the embrace of our Lord.
Prepare the way by thanking your mom for the gift of life. She had to go through a battle for nine months to give birth, and then the battles of love continued throughout your life. Express love to your children and let them know how precious their life is to you.
Guide your loved ones to grow in faith and the practice of their faith, especially participating in Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation so that they may have eternal life.
Prepare the way by developing a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who gave birth and raised the Christ child. Prepare the way by helping other mothers to recognize the gift of their children; offer clothes or toys that are out of disuse; offer to watch their children so they can go on date night with their spouse.
Prepare the way by considering being a foster parent or adopting a child. Prepare the way by volunteering or donating to a pregnancy support agency like Mary’s Shelter. Prepare the way by understanding where legislators stand on the issues and voting for pro-life candidates.
Teach the truth by instructing your children about sex and love before they learn the false and distorted views from their friends or the internet. Teach your children the importance of chastity, and to respect the body and souls of others. Teach your children the importance of the Holy Eucharist, the gift of eternal life. Teach your children the sacredness of every human person and how to love one another.
Care for all human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Care for your family and protect them from danger. Care for all children and protect them from abuse by participating in Protecting God’s Children workshop to know the warning signs.
Care for those who have gone astray by welcoming them back to Church. Care for those who are lonely and have been abandoned by society, especially the elderly, the infirm or prisoners, by visiting them. Care for the homeless by volunteering at soup kitchens or temporary shelters like Family Promise.
Care for all, because God revealed the greatest and most compassionate care to us sinners when he sent his only Son into the cold, dark world to bring us to eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). May God’s peace be with you and all our brothers and sisters during the season and always.