Some reflections as Christmas approaches
(National Right to Life) As I write this post, my family is exchanging texts, figuring out who will bring what for our Christmas Eve post-church meal and for the delicious spread we will enjoy Christmas Day post-opening presents. What a blessing that we can all be together.
This is worth pondering, I believe, because whether times are very good or very tough for those who defend the little ones, many of us in the Movement are sustained through the inevitable ups and downs by our loved ones and by the assurance that what we are doing is what He has appointed us to do.
Paul Stark, Communications Director for Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, once wrote a brief but tender and observant story about “Three things Christmas tells us about human life and dignity,” including this paragraph. Christmas tells us, Paul wrote:
The weak and vulnerable matter just as much as the strong and independent. God himself chose to enter the world in the most vulnerable condition possible: as a tiny embryo, and then a fetus, and then a newborn baby lying in a manger. This turned ancient “might makes right” morality on its head. It suggests that human dignity is not determined by age, size, power or independence.
Talk about counter-cultural!
We have, by all appearances, a change in administrations in which the most pro-life administration ever, Donald Trump’s, will be supplanted by an administration whose thirst for abortion is unquenchable, Joe Biden’s.
I have written about the following more than once before, but I believe it bears repeating, especially now. Way back on May 14, 2004, then-president George W. Bush delivered a powerful commencement address to Concordia University graduates. (Concordia, located near Milwaukee, is the largest Lutheran university in America.)
These are my two favorite passages:
A person shows his or her character in kindness and charity, and what is true in our lives is also true in the life of our Nation. You can fairly judge the character of society by how it treats the weak, the vulnerable, the most easily forgotten. Our own country, at its best, strives to be compassionate, and this isn’t easy. Compassion is not merely a vague feeling of empathy; it is a demanding virtue. It involves action and effort and deep conviction, a conviction as old as Scripture and present at the founding of our country. We believe that everyone has a place and a purpose in this world, that every life matters, that no insignificant person was ever born. …
America needs your good heart in meeting a basic responsibility, to protect and honor life in all its seasons. A compassionate society shows a special concern for those at the beginning of life, those at the end of life, and those who struggle in life with disabilities. Most of you, at some point, will be called to care for a dying relative or a frail and aging parent or someone close to you with a terrible sickness. Often, in their pain and loneliness, they will feel they are nothing but a burden and worthless to the world, and you will need to show them that’s not true. Our worth as human beings does not depend on our health or productivity or independence or any other shifting value the world might apply. Our worth comes from bearing the image of our Maker. And the hardest times of your life may be the most important, when you bear witness to this truth by your sacrifice and loving kindness to another soul.
Collectively, what are Mr. Stark and President Bush reminding us of? There are dozens of important truths, but in light of the Christmas season, here are three.
1. The more powerful we are, the greater our obligations, particularly to those who are at our mercy. What a fundamental difference it makes whether you believe that being more powerful obliges you to look after those in your care, or whether you have persuaded yourself this frees you to do what you want to because….you can.
We make a million excuses, chase down a trillion rabbit holes, but hiding behind self-delusionary, debasing rhetoric to pretend the unborn is not truly “one of us” doesn’t change that we are simply saying might makes right.
2. The unborn, the child born with disabilities, the elderly woman who has clearly (but falsely) learned the lesson that she is a “burden” are “the most easily forgotten.” Are they invisible? No. We choose to look aside.
And if, morally speaking, our peripheral vision is blurry, or virtually non-existent, it is easy to forget they have claims on us that are independent of “health or productivity or independence or any other shifting value.” Each and every one of them is of infinite value simply because they are.
For Christians, as President Bush noted, “Our worth comes from bearing the image of our Maker.”
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3. Pro-lifers do not live hermetically sealed off from pain and difficult times and immense challenges.
We understand that an unplanned or untimely pregnancy can present extraordinary challenges. Many-to-most of us also have or will experience caring for aging parents. Contrary to what our anti-life opponents insist, we are fully in touch with the “real world.”
But as President Bush said of “the hardest times of your life,” they “may be the most important, when you bear witness to this truth [that we are made in His image] by your sacrifice and loving kindness to another soul.”
Of course not only pro-lifers “bear witness,” by their sacrifice and loving kindness to others. That is in the genes of the American culture as evidenced by our generosity to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and churches and the legion of voluntary organizations that step up in crises small and large.
But for many people, that “gene” of self-sacrifice and loving kindness is not “expressed”–or turned on, to borrow from biology. For pro-lifers, it is who we are.
Tweet This: For many people the “gene” of self-sacrifice & loving kindness is not expressed or turned on. For pro-lifers, it is who we are.
God bless you as we rapidly approach Christmas.
Editor's note: This article was published by National Right to Life Committee and is reprinted with permission.