2 Tm 1:8b-10
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As Paul writes to Timothy in today’s second reading, Jesus Christ “destroyed death and brought life.” That is the core of the Gospel, and that is the subject of the conversation that Jesus has with Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration (Luke’s account of what we read today from Matthew identifies the subject of the conversation – see Lk. 9:31). The word used there for the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus is “exodus,” reminding us of the great act of liberation in the Old Testament that prefigured the Paschal Mystery.
The exodus was not easy for God’s people, nor was the passion easy for Christ. Yet these were the paths to the destruction of death and the revelation of life. So it is for us, who – as individuals and as a society – are called to make the transition from a culture of death to a culture of life. It is like what Abram is asked to do in the first reading – to leave all that is familiar, comfortable, and predictable, and to set out for “a land that I will show you.” This requires absolute trust. Abram, after all, has been where he is for a long time. Is this any time to change?
When we talk about ending abortion in our society, we encounter the same kind of question. The resistance to the idea of abolishing this practice arises not so much from the conviction that abortion is acceptable as from the conviction that it’s too late to change things. The Supreme Court said as much when it came close to reversing Roe vs. Wade in 1992, but ended up concluding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that women have come to rely for too long on the availability of abortion.
Just on a popular level, people wonder what changes will occur in society when so many children, now being aborted, are born instead. “Will society be able to handle the change?” is the question they ask. Incidentally, the same kind of question was asked when society was faced with the question of whether slavery should be abolished. How will society handle the slaves who will now roam free?
And, of course, the question of how to handle the change is also asked on a very personal and individual level by the pregnant mother who is not sure she can continue the pregnancy.
It is Abram being asked to leave the comfortable and familiar and set out for a whole new land, a new way of life, and a new fruitfulness. It is the People of God at the edge of the Red Sea, wondering how it can open. It is the apostles on the Mount of the Transfiguration, wondering what this vision means, and what it means “to rise from the dead.” The message for God’s people today is that we are to move forward into the frightening and unfamiliar changes that are required for those committed to doing what is right.