Is 49:3, 5-6
1 Cor 1:1-3
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“Called to be holy…a light to the nations…baptized as sons and daughters of God.” These themes, drawn from each of today’s readings, speak powerfully to us of our call as individuals and as a Church. Central to every vocation is the call to holiness. The name of the Second Vatican Council’s key document on the Church, “Lumen Gentium,” is taken from today’s first reading. It reminds us that we are a light, a beacon, to every people, primarily by the way we live, both in our private lives and in the way we conduct our activities and shape our policies as a Church and as a society.
At the same time, in these days, we have three observances whose themes converge powerfully to show us in what direction those lives and policies must go, and in what direction that “light to the nations” is to be shed.
This week our nation honors the dream of equal human rights articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He did not only advocate for the equality of African Americans. His advocacy in that realm was a corollary of his advocacy for the equality of every human being. His niece, Dr. Alveda King, is now a full time pro-life activist with Priests for Life and declares that the civil rights movement of today is the pro-life movement.
On January 22, we also mark the anniversary of the most egregious violation of human rights through the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which permitted the killing of children in the womb. Observances, rallies and marches take place throughout the nation this month to call for the equal protection of those children.
During these days, Christians also observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. John Paul II, in his encyclical “Ut Unum Sint,” called for ecumenical collaboration in the works of justice and human rights.
Each of these can inform our preaching today. We pray that Christians will unite in effective service to all who are deprived of their rights, and bring about a Culture of Life, Justice, and Love.