Forgive me if I don’t get terribly theological in this post about why we have Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It is true that God has created all life, and that He loves life. It is true that we treasure life because He does. It is true that we learn to love all people, but especially to look after the weak, the poor, the needy, the widows, and orphans because He has told us to. We love because He first loved us. True.
But it is also true that you do not need to reference God at all to know that human life is sacred and needs to be protected. It is in the hearts of all humans that we are most human when we care for others with respect. It is in the hearts of all humans that when we despise other people we are less because of it. It is in the hearts of all humans that when we fail to stand up for those who are endangered, we are rejecting the strength that we could be to embrace the cowardice that has infected our species. Humans are most human when they care for humans who can give nothing back to them. Humans are least human when they care not for those who cannot help themselves.
The human race in our day and age is at risk of forgetting these things. In previous ages of the world, people found it convenient to fight against certain races, particular family groups in the world, because they found them distasteful, threatening, or inconvenient. This was awful, shameful, cowardly behavior. In our day, we have stood up together to reject genocide, and rightly so. But in place of it, we have embraced a new way of fighting against large parts of humanity that we find distasteful, threatening, or inconvenient. Now we attack people by their age. We attack people who, due to their age, cannot defend themselves. And we are still in the heart of doing this in a shameless and cowardly manner.
We attack children who were still in the womb of their mothers. They are human, but we have denied them human rights. The courts in our land took away the protection due to human life from these human beings. Our courts gave other humans the right to kill them, and in doing so they made us all less human. The slaughter of unborn children has reached genocidal proportions rarely seen in human history. Yet we still act as if we are a virtuous society, and as if those who commit these murders are brave. We have always been able to know that the unborn are human. But now we can see them in the womb, we can enter their world. We can measure their heart beats, we can measure their brain waves, we can see that they dream, they think, they listen, they feel pain, they feel fear, they can reach out to those voices they hear from a world unknown to them, but separated from them only by the journey that we all have made – birth.
We KNOW they are human. But our laws do not change, for there is a part of our world that finds these humans distasteful, threatening, or inconvenient. So their murders are legal. We could do something else, of course. We could pour our energy into supporting mothers in crisis, we could pour our resources into caring for them and their children. We could direct our virtue into mercy rather then hatred. We could. But we don’t. And so unborn humans die, their mother’s lives are shattered, and we are all less human because we not only don’t stop the murder, we make it legal, and praise the perpetrators instead of helping the victims.
We have a Sunday every year to proclaim to the world and to each other that human life is sacred and that we need to remember this truth and change our behavior to be in accord with it. We need to remember that children in the womb and out of it, their mothers and fathers, their grandparents are all human, and that the course of a life well lived is that of loving the people we meet in the ways that they need. We are humans, we love, we sacrifice on behalf of others, we live in a community were one day we know others will sacrifice on our behalf, and in both giving and receiving – we are humans.
But we also have a Sanctity of life Sunday because so many people are hurting. The guilt and pain and shame that people feel from their failure to respect the sanctity of life is real. Only Christ Jesus can remove that guilt and shame. So we all go to Him, to the God who freely sacrificed Himself on the cross, to forgive us for the times we have sinned against Him and against other people. We rejoice that He rose from the dead, and we cling to Him to give us life now and forever. In Christ Jesus, we find love that is real. And in Him we are able to love each other. In Him, we find ourselves truly human, redeemed and free. Sanctity of human life is not for one Sunday only. It is a lifelong commitment of mercy to one another, lived in the forgiving grace of Christ.
So, please, remember what it is to be human. People are counting on you. And one day your own life will depend on others remembering that you are human too.
Lord, have mercy!