Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation
Like the Child Jesus, who is “forever the sign of God’s tenderness and presence in our world . . . today too, children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life,” said Pope Francis during his visit earlier this year to Bethlehem. “Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human.”
When we speak of respect for human life, it is easy for us to get caught up in abstractions, and our response can seem somewhat theoretical. But our obligations are quite concrete. Lives depend on us.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit a maternity hospital in Peru that was supported and sustained by the Church in this country. It operated in an impoverished area with a large, struggling population of poor and needy people.
One of my greatest joys is when young parents give me their newborn baby to hold, so I was delighted when the sisters running the maternity ward invited me to hold one of the children under their care. As I gingerly picked up a one-day-old infant, the baby latched onto my finger with all his strength and held tight.
That infant is a parable to me – a representative of countless unborn children reaching out to hold onto you and me, reaching out with all their strength. In their struggle to find a place, a home, a life in this world, the most vulnerable among us depend on us to work for a culture of life.
We have witnessed in many societies a diminishment of respect for human life. Accordingly, as the working paper for the Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Challenges to the Family says, “in her pastoral programs, the Church needs to reflect on how to encourage a mentality which is more open to life” (Instrumentum Laboris, 130).
In what we do and how we express ourselves, we have to find ways to proclaim the good news of every human life for a hearing among those who have been led to believe that some life is not worth living. The New Evangelization impels us all to use the grace of the Holy Spirit to discover fresh resources and summon new strength to advance the message of the Gospel of life.
None of our lives is meaningless or not worth living. We are all needed. Each of us is here because a loving God wills us to live. Each of us is a masterpiece of God’s creation.
“The fullness towards which every human life tends is not in contradiction with a condition of illness and suffering,” Pope Francis affirms. “Therefore, poor health and disability are never a good reason for excluding or, worse, for eliminating a person; and the most serious privation that elderly persons undergo is not the weakening of the body and the disability that may ensue, but abandonment and exclusion, the privation of love” (Message to the Pontifical Academy for Life, February 19, 2014).
It cannot be denied that there are hardships in life. Whether experienced in a crisis pregnancy or late in life, in a physical illness or a bout of mental depression, the human condition is for us all beset with trials and tribulations. And the answer we give to these challenges in the reality of our human weakness is love, and not to give in to the temptation to despair (Evangelium Vitae, 66-67, 76-77).
When hardship and suffering arise for ourselves or others, we can confront them with God or without him. It is a lot easier with God. In his compassion, God does not abandon us but he stands with us. By the power of his love, he transforms our fear and gives us hope.