Trustworthy hearts and the obedience of faith in evaluating health care reform

 

Bishop Paul S. Loverde

  Arlington Catholic Herald - Arlington, VA
  11/7/2009
 

Given at the Respect Life Mass at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale VA

 
Two phrases frame our reflection; both are rooted in today’s Scripture readings. These two phrases are: “a trustworthy heart” and “the obedience of faith.”

What is “a trustworthy heart”? A trustworthy heart is one given over to the Lord, Who can strengthen us. Indeed, if we give over our heart to the Lord and allow Him, He can make our heart trustworthy, so that we are capable of hearing His Word and then of doing His Will. If the heart is trustworthy, so too is the person in whom that heart dwells.

A person with a trusting heart responds to the Lord with “the obedience of faith,” that is, he or she tries to be obedient to the demands of faith, to what God asks us to be and to do as the faithful disciples of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ.

The one human being whose heart was the most trustworthy and who responded to God completely with the obedience of faith is Our Blessed Lady, Mary Immaculate. She gave herself over totally to God’s disposal. “Let it be done unto me as you say.” She obeyed with full faith and complete trust. In today’s Preface proposed for this Votive Mass of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we will hear how God made Mary trustworthy and obedient: “You gave the Blessed Virgin Mary a wise and obedient heart, that she might perfectly carry out your will….” (Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, p. 28, p. 144). Indeed, in today’s Opening Prayer, recalling how God prepared Mary’s heart, we asked God: “Give us a heart that is free from sin and attentive to your will, that, faithful to your commandments, we may love you above all things and seek to help others in their needs” (Ibid., p. 237).

As we celebrate this monthly Respect Life Mass, we pray now more than ever that our hearts be made trustworthy, so that we can respond with the obedience of faith, especially in these days when we bishops are calling upon the faithful to uphold the truth about life, especially as this truth impacts the health care reform bill.

God, through His Divine Son, Who is the Living Word, proclaims the Gospel of Life and commissions us to be trustworthy in regard to any proposed bills. We must render our obedience of faith to the truth about life and to ensuring that any authentic health care reform will not provide for or allow abortion or abortion funding and will provide for conscience clauses.

Last week, we bishops published a Nationwide Bulletin Insert. This is to be distributed in every parish as soon as possible.

Our premise is that health care reform is about saving lives, not destroying them. Abortion is not health care because killing is not healing. For over thirty years, the Hyde Amendment and other longstanding and widely supported laws have prevented federal funding of elective abortions. Yet, as of today (Saturday morning), the health care reform bill advancing in the House of Representatives ignores this policy. Americans would be forced to subsidize abortions through their taxes and health insurance premiums. We need genuine health care reform – reform that helps save lives, not destroy them.

For many years, the United States bishops have supported decent health care for all based on our teaching that health care is essential for human life and dignity and on the Church’s experience in providing health care and assisting those without coverage. Let me now quote from the USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert. “Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors. Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee-approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them. Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care…. Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed. Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.

ACTION: Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.

To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.

Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.

Yes, what we really need now are people with trustworthy hearts, who are capable of rendering the obedience of faith. Tell Congress: “Remove abortion funding and mandates from needed health care reform; guarantee protection for the rights of conscience.”

So, we pray to Our Blessed Mother: “O Mary, whose Immaculate Heart was always trustworthy, enable us to live with trustworthy hearts like yours, so that, like you, we may render the obedience of faith as we unceasingly proclaim and witness to the Gospel of Life and its essential impact on health care reform.”