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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: January 16, 2022
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily during the annual Mass for Life in the Wally Allen Ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. It is based on the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.
The Greek word, "epiphany" means "manifestation" — an eye-opening experience. The visit of the Magi is the only event we usually call epiphany, but the fathers of the Church speak of three epiphanies at the beginning of Jesus' life and ministry, which open our eyes to important truths of our faith.
1.) The visit of the Magi two weeks ago, which revealed Jesus' identity and destiny — gold for a king, incense for God, and myrrh for the burial of him who will die to save us.
2.) The baptism of Jesus last Sunday, which revealed God as a Trinity of persons sharing one divine nature — Jesus the Son of whom the Father is pleased, the Holy Spirit hovering overhead.
Life does not cease to be sacred once the baby is born, and no child in the womb will be secure until we embrace the sanctity of all life and reject everything that threatens human life or degrades human dignity at any stage of human existence.
3.) And today the wedding feast of Cana, which reveals the glorious beginning of the messianic age in Jesus — symbolized by his changing ordinary water into a superabundance of the fine wine.
Today we also celebrate a fourth epiphany of sorts, because our gathering is designed to open people's eyes to yet another fundamental truth: the sacredness of all human life because life belongs to God, not us, and one day we will have to give account of our stewardship of it.
One thing all epiphanies have in common is that they reveal truths to which we had been blind. In Jesus' time, Jews expected the Messiah to be a king, but no one expected him also to be God or that he would die to save us. They knew God the Father but not the rest of the blessed Trinity. And changing water into wine was unprecedented. Today, no Catholic should be confused about abortion, but many Catholics remain blind to the full meaning of the sanctity of life.
Today I invite you to open your eyes to two often overlooked truths: 1.) that life does not cease to be sacred once the baby is born; and 2) that no child in the womb will be fully secure until we reject everything that threatens human life or degrades human dignity.
In our country the Gospel of Life is a seamless garment that has come unraveled to the point that we tolerate utterly immoral behavior as if it were nothing — after all, if life is not sacred, who cares what they do? "Live and let live!"
We have high hopes that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, but that will not end abortion in our country. There will be states where abortion remains legal and desperate women will still seek abortions, often by traveling to one of those states. Abortion will not end in this country until every life is treasured and women have the human and material support they need to raise the child that the Lord of life has entrusted to them.
Jesus' Gospel of Life proclaims the sanctity of life at every stage of human existence from the first moment of conception to natural death and at every moment in between. That means that if you came here today to oppose abortion but rely on artificial contraception or sterilization to exclude any possibility of welcoming new life, you may be anti-abortion, but you are not pro-life.
If you use in vitro fertilization or an IUD, you're not even anti-abortion. If your heart is not moved to help those who suffer due to poverty, addiction, lack of access to medical care, unjust immigration laws, domestic violence, disability, or anything else that is damaging to human dignity, you may be anti-abortion, but you are not pro-life.
The same is true if you think it is okay to execute criminals who are locked away and pose no further threat to society. God's gift of life is sacred, regardless of a person's usefulness to society. It doesn't become sacred once a mother chooses to carry her baby to term, and not if she doesn't. It's sacred already, regardless of what anybody thinks. If you cut away any part of the seamless garment of the Gospel of Life, it all begins to unravel, and the resulting damage is obvious.
All of us are anti-abortion, so let me close with a reminder of two truths that we also need to keep in mind as we work to end the scourge of abortion in our country and in our world: 1) life does not cease to be sacred once the baby is born; and 2.) no child in the womb will be secure until we embrace the sanctity of all life and reject everything that threatens human life or degrades human dignity at any stage of human existence.