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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homily 28th Sunday of the Year / Respect Life Month 11 October 2009

Just after 3:00 a.m. on March 13, 1964,
a red Fiat rolled slowly through the darkness into a parking lot
adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road station in Queens in NYC.

A young woman emerged from her car
and began to walk toward her apartment house.
But then she spotted someone in her path.
She changed direction and headed toward a police call box.Suddenly, the man overtook her. She screamed.
Residents of nearby apartments turned on their lights and opened their windows.

The woman screamed loudly again and again, crying out “Please help me!"
as her attacker stabbed her to .
Ignoring her cries, her neighbors turned out their lights
and slammed their windows shut.
Forty-five minutes later, a neighbor called the police.
Officers arrived and found the body.
They identified the victim as Catherine Genovese, 28 years of age.
Thirty-eight neighbors witnessed the attacks,
but none came to her aid or even called the police.
They were too indifferent, frightened or self-absorbed to "get involved"
and help a fellow human being in trouble.
Over the years, there have been studies of what is now called
"the Genovese syndrome."
Commenting on this incident, one psychologist wrote:
"If we need help, will those around us let us be destroyed
or will they come to our aid?
Are we there to help sustain life and values,
or are we individual flecks of dust just floating around in a vacuum?"

As we hear the desperate cries of those whose lives are under attack in our society,
are we there to help sustain human life and values
and come to the aid of the defenseless among us
or are we indifferent, frightened and selfish
that we allow those around us to be destroyed?

As we celebrate this Respect Life Month, we are faced with precisely this question.

This special celebration is an opportunity to praise God for the precious gift of life
and also an occasion to examine how we are responding
to the basic human obligation
to share in the defense of vulnerable human lives.

As has been the case at various times throughout world history,
we find ourselves in the midst of a struggle…
a struggle for values…and for the lives of our brothers and sisters.

The voices of the world…the media, the talking heads, the ivory tower academics…
present a limited and at times damaging view of human life.
Hiding under the fa├žade of mercy toward the suffering,
euthanasia really speaks a language of hatred toward the elderly and the sick.

While perpetuating the myth that it promises cures for horrible diseases,
research on embryonic stem cells manipulates and destroys
human persons in the embryonic stage –
the same stage in which we once lived in our human development.

While promising women an easy way out of a difficult and embarrassing situation,
abortion is a lie that leaves in its wake pain and depression for women
and the of millions of children.

Capital Punishment, while not intrinsically evil like these other issues,
and though accepted in a limited and narrow way by Church teaching,
unfortunately contributes to the mentality
that we solve our conflicts and problems with .

Quite to the contrary, God our Heavenly Father,
He who has created us and who loves as His own children,
speaks a word of love, saying: “You are beloved and valuable to me.”

He speaks a word of tender mercy to women and families hurt by abortion…
and of compassion to the sick and elderly.

To every human person, in the womb, in the hospital bed,
at risk from attacks on human life,
God says: “I love you and you are mine forever!”
God’s passionate love for the lives He has created is not negotiable.
It is not open for discussion.
There is no doubt or argument
about how and when and in what circumstances God loves us,
for the life of every person is precious in His sight – all the time.
God’s love is perfect and faithful.

Therefore, it makes no sense to debate about the sacredness of human life
nor how valuable and precious it is to us, who are God’s beloved children.
God loves every life…always…and so must we!

God calls us to unity and solidarity in consistently opposing the intrinsic evils
that threaten the precious lives of our brothers and sisters.

There are many social issues which can be broadly considered “life issues” –
from those which actually threaten the lives of the unborn and the unwanted
to other issues of justice which are themselves significant
such as seeking world peace and ending hunger and poverty.

Our Christian faith and our experience of God’s love
inspire our response to these desperate needs of our fellow men and women.

Christian morality teaches us that the deliberate attacks on the unborn and elderly
are of greater moral weight because of the unique evils they cause
and so they demand a more profound response.


We are called to embrace a consistent love for every life without exception,
and to work for justice for all people
while at the same time prioritizing the most heinous crimes against life.

Our concrete response to the attacks on life takes many forms:
praying peacefully
reaching out to scared and lonely young women in difficult situations
supporting Catholic Charities in their ministry to pregant women
teaching and forming our young people in God’s ways
writing to our legislators and voicing our Christian beliefs
speaking out when faced with people and situations that do not revere life.

God’s love for human life is non-negotiable, so our must be as well.

When faced with the global crisis of the attacks against life,
we who are Christ’s followers do not close our doors,
turn out our lights, slam our windoes shut
and ignore the cries of those in need.

Instead, we pray, speak out and work passionately for the cause of life,
God’s precious gift for which we daily give thanks and praise.

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