Yet at the same time we live in what John Paul II called a culture of death, an era of diminishment of the human spirit. If we have not sold our souls in 21st century Australia to the devil, we are otherwise occupied in adoring golden calves.
We live in an age of glitz and appearance (read the lifestyle magazines), and our society in consumerism focuses on what is possessed rather than who possesses.
To the astonishment of a Christian, we have politicians who promote death as a good to be accomplished by human intervention, against the two most fragile sections of our society, the unborn, the sick and frail. We sanitise our language, and with abortion and euthanasia may not use the word “kill” but rather say terminate or euthanase. In the same sex marriage debate, the language was changed from the meaning of marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman to the concept of marriage equality. Abortion is now referred to as a medical procedure, or women’s reproductive health. Euthanasia is now described as death with dignity.
But to us Jesus said that He had come that we might have life and have it to the full.
Personal contentment and joy should be a mark of the Christian. We know Jesus to be the author of life, so it is not strange that so many of His teachings referred to growing things, like wheat, vines, mustard trees, fig trees, rain, seeds, and so on. Jesus described Himself as the resurrection and the life, and said that He was the way, the truth and the life. Christians are to be apostles of life.
We call the Father the creator, the Son the resurrection, and the Holy Spirit the giver of life. Life was a supreme act of creation, as outlined in the Book of Genesis, with human beings being the crown and summit. God saw that it was good, and that with humanity He saw that it was very good. Life is the area of the Divine.
Christians are therefore to be respecters of life in all its forms. We are to care and protect the unborn and those who through sickness are on the edge of life. While we oppose abortion, we must also oppose torture, capital punishment, and all forms of violence that have no basis in morality.
Christian morality highlights life as a criterion of good and evil. What enhances life is good – love, fidelity, truthfulness, charity, compassion… What diminishes life is evil – dishonesty, betrayal, infidelity, addictions of any type, violence, personal invasion…
There is a hymn in the Morning Prayer of the breviary: May what is false within usbefore your truth give way.
That we may live untroubled,with quiet hearts this day.
We pray for all that they may live untroubled lives with quiet hearts. Life troubled is not what God intended for us. But to live lives untroubled we must look to the life of our hearts, what feeds us in prayer, how the Lord speaks to the life within us.
St Bernard has a beautiful line in one of his sermons – “God Himself dwells in the heart and speaks in the heart…Let our life be in the heart, where Christ dwells”.
Jesus taught us to look at our hearts, for that is from where all goodness and evil comes, from inside a person. We are to be apostles of life, so we must look to our hearts, and see who dwells there, or what occupies it.
For the person who prays, it will be Christ who dwells in his/her heart. And He is the Lord of life, who came that we might have it to the full.
Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Bishop of Port Pirie Diocese
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