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Love Leads To Life
(1Jn.4:7-10; Jn.15:9-17)

By Fr. Frank A. Pavone

The basis of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christians rejoice in the Resurrection, because it is the victory of life not only for Christ but for each person who believes in Him. Christ's rising from the grave means that we too will rise from the grave!

The victory of life is also the victory of love. From the first page of Scripture to the last, it is clear that love leads to life. These two realities cannot be separated, because they are rooted in the one God, who cannot be divided. Scripture tells us that God is love (1Jn. 4:8). Scripture also tells us that God is life (see Jn.14:6). Love and life always go together.

We see this in creation. Where were you 100 years ago today? You were nowhere; you did not exist. So why are you here today? How were you rescued from that nothingness you were once in? Certainly you did not ask to be born. You weren't there to do the asking. Certainly you did not earn it because you weren't there to do anything that could earn it. What accounts for the fact that you are here? We can say that your parents came together and you were conceived and born, and that is true. But that doesn't fully answer the question of why you are here. When your parents came together, there could have been millions of possible people conceived and born, who would have been your brothers or sisters. It didn't have to be you!

The only ultimate explanation of why you are here is that God loves you. He chose you to be! In fact, at each moment He is literally loving you into existence. If He stopped loving you for one instant, you would fall back into the nothingness you were in 100 years ago. Love leads to life.

This is clear also in the mystery of salvation. St. John tells us, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his only Son into the world that we might have life through him" (1Jn 4:9). Christ's love for us brought Him to the cross, and this led to the victory of life. The crucifix is the best symbol of love. Love is self-giving for the good of another person. Christ gives His life for us, without complaining and without counting the cost. His concern is that we might have life.

Having shown His love for us in this way, He instructs us, "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn. 15:12). He does not say, "Love one another in whatever way you want," but rather, "as I have loved you." We are called to love in a way that brings forth new life. We are called to give ourselves, without counting the cost, that others may live.

Parents, therefore, cooperate with the work of God when their love for each other becomes a new human being. The child they bear belongs to God first. Only God can create. Mother and father are participating in the work of God. Parents do not own their children; God does. In fact, parents do not own themselves. Many people today say, "This is my life, my body, my choice." But we are not our own masters. We belong to God." Nobody lives as his own master and nobody dies as his own master" (Rom.14:7). "You are not your own" (1Cor. 6:19).

The choice to be a mother or father is not merely a human choice. It is God's choice first. Our Lord tells us, "It is not you who have chosen Me. I have chosen you, to go forth and bear fruit" (Jn.15:16). A parent becomes a parent before s/he knows it. One is a father or mother as soon as his/her child begins to exist, and the child begins to exist at the moment of conception. (This is not a matter of opinion or religious belief, but a matter of verifiable and established scientific fact.) Parents discover that they have become parents several weeks after the fact. A pregnant woman should not say, "I'm expecting a child." The child already exists. Nor should she say, "I'm going to be a mother." She already is. And the man is already a father.

There is nothing comparable to having a child. Everything that a person owns is less valuable than himself. Even if someone owns a multimillion dollar corporation, all that money is ultimately a pile of rocks. Even gold will eventually fade away into nothing. But a child, given an immortal soul and the call to eternal life, will never go out of existence. For all eternity, as long as God is God, the child, the person, will always exist. A child is equal to his/her parents. He is not equal in age, nor in knowledge (thought he often thinks so), nor in experience, but the child IS equal in dignity, in value, in worth as a person created in God's image and redeemed by Christ. Every person is equal in this way, whether in the womb or outside the womb, no matter how young or old, healthy or sick, big or small, famous or obscure. Were one to take all of the galaxies in the universe, with their hundreds of billions of stars and incalculable beauty and power, they would not add up to a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the worth of one, tiny human child.

A parent is called to love his/her children as Christ has loved us. "Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15:13). A mother who demonstrates this in a particularly striking way is Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, who died in 1962 and was declared "blessed" by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994 [and canonized on May 16, 2004]. She was a doctor and mother of three children. When she became pregnant with her fourth, it was discovered that she had a tumor near her uterus. She made it very clear to her doctor and her family that she wanted everything done to save the life of her baby. The baby was born healthy but despite efforts to save her, Gianna died several days later at the age of 39. "This is absurd," some may say. But look again at the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ. "Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down his life for his friends" (Jn.15:13).

Most parents will not be called to face what Gianna Molla faced, but all parents, and all Christians, are called to lay down their lives for the sake of others in so many ways every day. Let us pray especially for mothers who are afraid of motherhood, and who are tempted to abort their children. Let us pray that they accept the grace to love as Christ has loved us. God will never place an obligation before us without also giving us every ounce of strength we need to carry it through. Let us praise Him for His grace, for His love, and for the victory of LIFE!

Amen.

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