The Church designates October as Respect Life Month. In our parish, we pray regularly for the respect of the sanctity of life from womb to tomb. First, people normally think of the issue of abortion when they hear terms like “respect life” or “defend life.” It is true that we stand up consistently for the right to life which is the most fundamental right in life. Without the right to life, no other rights are possible. Second, respect for life covers life from beginning to end, from “natural conception to natural death” as I like to say in our petitions. The current notices and announcements in our parish to oppose assisted suicide in DC reflect our respect for life in its final stages. Finally, the national conversation about respecting the lives and dignity of all people at all times is the good that has come out of the evil in our country this year vis-à-vis the tragic shootings. Hopefully, hearts are changing. In my opinion, merging the Black Lives Matter message with Respect Life Month would be to say that all lives matter all the time.
So, if we reflect on today’s Psalm that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor” in the context of respect for life, we realize that the Lord hears the cries of many people who are suffering poverty in different forms. People are crying out to the Lord – whether it’s vocally or from the depths of their hearts – for help in hunger, debt, unemployment, homelessness, addiction, domestic violence, abuse, family wounds, rejection, loneliness, abandonment, depression, etc. Poverty has so many faces and forms, and yet St. Teresa of Calcutta once said that “the greatest poverty is spiritual poverty.” The Lord hears the cry of the poor in whatever poverty they are living and in whatever way their life is not being respected by others or themselves. What is the Lord’s response to the cry of the poor? HE BECOMES POOR. This is one of the greatest and most inspiring mysteries of Christianity – that God comes right into our suffering and becomes a poor person in Jesus Christ.
Last week I was having a discussion with a young woman from the neighborhood. She is one of those crying out to the Lord in her tough situation in life. She told me that her boyfriend is verbally abusive of her and demeans her regularly. She expressed a very low sense of worth. As she said the words of struggling with self-worth, the words of that morning’s Gospel sprung into my mind: “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows” (Lk 12:7).
God is always on time! Luke 12 means that God knows us so intimately and uniquely, and He says that we have great worth. These words comforted her in her personal poverty, and should console anyone who thinks they are not worth much.
On the subject of abusive relationships, I attended a conference last Tuesday on domestic violence sponsored by Catholic Charities. It is a painful subject, and unbelievably traumatic to those who are involved. A good friend who is a cop said that the most dangerous calls that police receive involve domestic violence. I learned quite a bit from the conference and intend to share it with you soon. If you have been emotionally or physically abused in your family or know someone who has, please contact me or call Catholic Charities at 301-731-4703 x 307 for help. Your life and dignity have tremendous worth to God and us, and don’t be afraid to cry out to the Lord for help and healing.
May you know the peace of Christ,