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The Church’s efforts to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of Life are marked by the themes in today’s readings.
First, the effort to defend life is based on the thirst for God that today’s first reading from Jeremiah and today’s Psalm express. We long for him, who is life itself, and we long for others to possess him as well. We serve the Kingdom of Life because it has first captured us, enthralled us, and convinced us that all our happiness and fulfillment are found in it – the Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love, and peace.
Second, it is that conviction which departs from a worldly way of thinking, which would see no connection between freedom and truth, but which instead asserts that individual belief and choice are primary, even over life itself. This attitude builds a culture of death. As St. Paul says in the second reading today, we must not conform ourselves to this age, nor to its “pro-choice” ways of thinking, especially about the unborn and the disabled. The pro-life movement is based on the renewal of our mind of which Paul speaks, a renewal that results in the ability to discern “what is good, pleasing, and perfect.” It is the basis of seeing, as John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae, that “life is always a good.”
Third, the Gospel passage reinforces the need for this discernment. Peter was thinking in a worldly way when he saw suffering and crucifixion as something to be avoided at all costs. Such thinking today leads some to see abortion as a solution to the suffering of a “crisis pregnancy,” or euthanasia as the escape from illness and disability. But that is not Godly thinking. As someone has said, “The false god transforms suffering into violence; the true God transforms violence into suffering.” Thus Jesus did by his cross; thus he calls us to do by embracing ours.