(Note: This is a homily given several years ago by Fr. Frank Pavone on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Good Counsel Homes, which provide for the needs of pregnant moms and their babies.)
Who can this be that the waves and the sea obey him? The apostles, brothers and sisters, were beginning to realize, at the calming of the sea, that the man who was with them was more than a man, and they would ultimately realize, of course, that this was the One spoken about in the first reading that we heard this morning, whom the saints of the Old Testament, the saints of ages past, looked forward to.
Hebrews tells us, "They didn't obtain what was promised but they look forward to it and saluted it from afar." Saluted what? The person, of the Lord Jesus Christ...the Salvation of the World...the One foretold by the prophets.
What man can this be? This man is the fulfillment of the hope of the human race. And when we look at what the prophets said of Him, again and again we see the word justice or righteousness. Jeremiah says for example, "This is the name they will give Him, the Lord our Justice''. Isaiah, foretelling Christ, says, "I have called you for the victory of Justice". And in the Psalms, Psalm 72 once again foretells the Messiah. It says, "Justice will flourish in His days. He shall judge with justice for the land's afflicted''. In the Old Testament, when we read about justice and righteousness, the idea behind those words is an act of justice, an act of intervention for those who are defenseless, an act of help for those who have no one else to help them, coming to the aid of the poor and the needy and the orphaned, and the widowed and those who are being oppressed, and those who are being attacked, and those who have no help. This is justice; this is righteousness. So the prophet Micah says, "What does the Lord require of you?" The first thing he says in answer to that question is, "Do justice". The Lord hears the cry of the poor...the poor, not just materially, but the poor in the sense of the helpless. The prophets were so strong on this thought that God, speaking through them, told the Israelites, ''If you don't do justice, if you don't come to the help of those who need your help, then don't come into my sanctuary saying that you're worshiping me. And don't fast, because it will become a mockery''. Isaiah says, for example, in his 58th chapter, 'What kind of fasting does the Lord require, that you bow like a reed? This is the fasting that He wants: Untie the yolk of those who are oppressed''. In fact, Isaiah begins his prophecy by saying, "Oh Israelites, you say that you come and worship the Lord and he does not hear your prayer. I will tell you why he doesn't hear your prayer. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Do justice! And then the Lord will hear you.'
The prophet Amos is even stronger. God says to him, "I am tired of your celebrations. Away with your noisy songs! Do justice and I will hear you." Jeremiah the prophet got himself in trouble by his Temple sermon. He went into the Temple and said, "You people come in here and say 'This is the Temple of the Lord, we are safe, we can worship here and then go out and continue to commit all the abominations that we commit'''. He said ''Only if you do what is right, will the Lord hear you. Do not think you are safe by saying this is the Lord's Temple and then continue to allow injustice in your midst".
How much more are these words true for us, who know who this Man is, Jesus Christ. How much more true is this for a Christian, that if we are going to say we are worshipers of Christ, then we too have to do justice. We are in the midst of an unspeakable tragedy that we call abortion. And it demands from us an immediate, practical response. John says in his First Epistle, "Let's not just talk about it, lets love in deed and in truth." Do justice.
We are celebrating today five years of a response to that call, because Good Counsel Homes are doing precisely this. Do justice. Come to the aid of those who are helpless, the babies in the womb and their mothers. Do something in response to this tragedy.
The nation celebrated a couple of weeks ago the dream, the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King. He said that if we respond to the evils of our time and we act for justice, if we do that thinking that we ourselves have the power to overcome all evil without the help of Almighty God, then that is arrogance. But, he went on to say, if we simply talk about and pray about the injustice around us, then don't act, that's superstition. We are called to respond and we are responding. And that is why we give thanks today. Good Counsel Homes are conducting this work and we have been saving babies and helping their mothers to choose life under the patronage and with the guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And she herself embodies Justice and Righteousness. She herself had a spirituality that did not mask reality, but that was in tune with the read needs of real people and responded to them. Just look at her life. As soon as she gets the unbelievable news that she's going to be the mother of the Messiah, what does she do? She doesn't sit back and marvel at what has just happened to her. She goes and she visits Elizabeth! She undertakes an arduous journey in response to the real needs of a real person. What does she do at the Wedding at Cana? She doesn't get herself wrapped up in the conversation between her, and Jesus and the apostles. She's the one who notices they have no more wine and she takes action.
So the Good Counsel Homes; they do not just talk about the women and the babies who need help. Help is given. We are in tune with real needs and we don't mask over reality. Brothers and sisters, the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement does precisely that - they mask over reality...talking about women's rights, masking over the reality of the harm that abortion does to women...masking over the perforated uterus, the infertility, the ectopic pregnancy, and the subsequent miscarriages, and the infections, the bleeding, and the horror, masking over the nightmares and the flashbacks, and the guilt, that follows these women all of their life...masking over the fact that they are not told by the abortionists about the alternatives that are available, or that there are risks in the procedure. Nor do we mask over the reality of the child, whereas the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement will talk about choice, putting a blanket over the reality of the destruction of over a million and half babies a year, blanketing over the reality of the arms and legs being torn apart, thrown away. Who's imposing their beliefs on reality?
Brothers and sisters, you and I are told to respond today. Not tomorrow, today. You and I are called to challenge the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement. There is an axiom in psychiatry which says, ''Believe behavior." Believe behavior. Look at what the pro-life movement is doing. Look at what is celebrated today. To be pro-life is to be pro-women. To be pro-choice, pro-abortion, is to be anti-women. Believe behavior. What does the pro-life movement offer to women? We offer real alternatives, we offer real care, we offer real assistance for them to choose life, and we offer healing and reconciliation and forgiveness for those who have had the misfortune of making the tragic choice of abortion.
And what does the pro-choice movement have to offer? Three things: a wounded body, a scarred mind and a dead baby. Believe behavior. We are celebrating today the behavior that does justice and righteousness. I ask you today to challenge the pro-abortion movement by calling those who ally themselves with this pro-choice slogan, by calling them to do what we're doing. If they're pro-choice, then offer the women choices! Offer her alternatives, assist her to choose life! If they take us up on the offer, then we're saving lives. And if they don't, then we have unmasked their deception, and it will be clear to all the world that this is not a question of pro-choice, but a question of pro-abortion. I also challenge you to become even more involved, to do even more, because there is plenty of work for everyone here...right here on Staten Island. So much is being done: there is so much more that needs to be done. And not only am I going to challenge you, but the unborn babies who have already died are going to challenge you. And now I'll read a letter from one of them. It comes from heaven, from an unborn baby, through a fourth grader: she writes,
I was so excited about coming into the world. I thought about all the things I would do, like playing with toys, riding a bike, going to the zoo, having a car. I wanted to see movies, go to school, make friends, and go to the park and circus. I wanted to celebrate Christmas and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. I looked forward to listening to music, dancing, swimming in the pool, playing soccer, and having dolls. I am very sad that I never got to do all of these things. My mother did not let me be born. I just don't understand one thing. Why didn't any of you help me? I wish you had. No one heard my crying voice.
From, an unborn baby.
Praise God, you have heard their crying voice and responded. Brothers and sisters you must continue to respond. Eventually this victory will be won. At what time and precisely by what means we do not know, but we know for sure it will be won. And there is something else we know for sure, that God has placed you and me right here, right now in the midst of an unbelievably disastrous tragedy. And He calls us to respond. Let us hear the voice of these unborn babies and their mothers more loudly than ever before and from this day forward let us again respond. Amen.