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Day for Life homily, 16.06.24

None of us chose to exist. We just do. That’s either by chance or by choice. If by chance, then the meaning of our life is chance; it can mean anything or nothing. But if by choice, then the meaning of our life is in the will of the One who chose us. The Christian faith teaches that no-one exists by chance, even if the parents who generate a child did not intend or even want her to exist. For in every instance it is God who creates the soul, the spirit, the person. We are God’s choice, not anyone else’s. It is God who is pro-choice, that is, pro-life.

So, each of us, by the very fact that we exist, is living proof that we are wanted by God, loved by God. It is that love which is the origin, the meaning and the purpose of our lives. To the degree we deny that love, or digress from it, or even just don’t feel it, we lose the deepest meaning of who we are and why we are. Without that love, in the end, we make no sense. Herein lies the terrible tragedy of those who have never known God’s love or, worse, have rejected it.

For many people, God Himself means nothing. That can be for all kinds of reasons, be they understandable, bad or indifferent. Even so, they still mean everything to God. God’s existence does not depend on our. But ours depends on His. How God relates to each of us, and how each of us relates to God, depends on many factors: upbringing, choice, cultural influence, grace, and so much more. What is certain is that, in ways He alone chooses, God offers every person whom His love has created the opportunity to love Him back, to surrender to Him in freedom, to thank Him for themselves, for His love and to praise Him for the destiny He has in store for them.

The parable of the mustard seed isn’t just about the Kingdom of God gradually growing among us. Each of us is that mustard seed, planted on the earth by the personal choice of God. We, too, grow, we know not how, by day and by night. By His sovereign will, we flourish. And when he sees that our crop is ready, He sovereignly reaps us in for the harvest. We don’t do it ourselves. As we did not sow the seed of our own life, so we do not gather in its harvest. The Lord is both Sower and Gatherer.

The difficult and sensitive issues around the beginning and end of human life are resolved not so much by arguing over medical issues or even rights or definitions about when life begins or ends. These questions so easily get mired in ideology and bitter polarisation. They do need answers and frank and honest debate about the science and the law. But ultimately, their resolution depends on the more fundamental recognition of God’s sovereignty over human life and human death, or at least in a rational understanding of the limits we have over these. People can use the same words and mean opposite things whenever some accept and others reject the sovereignty of God. This can lead to a dialogue of the deaf and the hurling of mutual recriminations which do terrible harm even if they satisfy the sense of outrage or injustice driving this one or that one.

Human beings will only fully respect one another’s dignity, and their own dignity, when we stand humbly before God in the acceptance that we all come from His love and are invited to return to Him in love and so to turn to one another in love. That’s true whether you are arguing about human life issues or legislating for them. It’s true in any circumstance. It is the loss of the sense of God’s presence and sovereignty over us which has given rise to so much inhumanity among us. Without Him, we fall into irrationality and mayhem. Sadly, so much of public life at home and abroad shows that this is true, even though the Word of God has forewarned us repeatedly about it in the history of the Chosen People.

Compassion, dignity, freedom of choice, and so many other fine words and phrases used in the debates around human life stir deep emotions and our sense of justice. But unless we understand them in God’s way, we risk losing their true meaning. The loving sovereignty of God over our lives is the ultimate perspective within which to know and honour human dignity. It is He who throws out the seed of human life and it is He who gathers it in  when the time comes. If we would but let Him be God, we would discover and celebrate who we are. For it is the divine which is the true measure of the human. It is His image and likeness in us which He Himself defends when He commands: Thou shalt not kill.