Good morning, first I want to acknowledge that January 24th is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, who we remember with great affection as he was the spiritual director of our own St. Jane de Chantal and with her, founded the Visitation order. St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!
So this week I must recall the words of Tom Petty: I won't back down, I will stand my ground, you can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won't back down.
And as people of faith, now more than ever, we better not back down.
Our celebration of today's liturgy falls a few days after the 48th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the very wrongly decided Supreme Court decision that declared open season on the children of this nation not yet born, but very much alive in the womb of their mother. By some estimates, in this nation alone, almost 66 million babies have died because of abortion. Recent events tell us that any strides made by the pro-life movement in previous years are now under attack from the highest level of leadership in our land. Sadly, said leadership professes to be Catholic.
Saint John Paul II told us that a nation that kills it's own children is a nation without a future; a nation without hope. And Saint Teresa of Calcutta reminded us that a nation that accepts abortion is not teaching it's people to love but to use any violence to get whatever we want.
Sadly the issue of abortion is a highly charged, highly emotional political issue. Yet while we argue and fight, the victims remain those innocent lives lost and the residual impacts on the individuals and families touched by the horrific aftermath of an abortion.
Here is a strong reminder for all of us who are Catholic, especially those who bow down and worship evil at the altar of abortion:
From a Vatican declaration in 1974: "It must be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principal the legitimacy of abortion. Nor can anyone take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, man may not collaborate in it's application."
In today's Gospel of Mark, on this Sunday also dedicated to the Word of God, we hear Jesus proclaim the first words of his public ministry: "Repent and believe in the Gospel." As a people of faith, as a nation, we are called to repent of our personal sins and the national sin of abortion. Jesus tells us to be "fishers of men" and so we are. As fishers of men in word and example we are called to live our faith, love God and our neighbor and to choose life; be an unapolegetic witness to life.
In the week ahead we are called to be in solidarity with all those who continue to fight for life. We can choose to help support our Pro-Life ministry here at our own parish, to witness at the abortion clinic in New Orleans and to pray for an end to abortion, perhaps we can complete the Novena for Life. There are still several days left to pray this important novena. Yet there is more.
Those who would support the evil of abortion, including our politicians who embrace it under the guise of a healthcare issue, well, they need our prayers. Yes, those who stand fully in support of abortion are desperately in need of prayers. We must pray for a change of heart, a metanoia, for our nation, much like Nineveh in our 1st reading, and realize our wrong, repent of our wrong, pray and fast and beg God to help us turn from our evil ways.
For us who declare ourselves Catholic, we must be Pro-Life and stand strongly against abortion. We must support and encourage those who are considering an abortion to consider life itself and those who have experienced an abortion must know that the Church offers a path back through repentance and reconciliation and love.
While it is also important to embrace all that Mother Church teaches and proclaims as Pro-Life, today we recognize that being against abortion is foundational to all all things life. So may we, God's people, not back down, not now, not ever.
As we pray at every Mass at the end of every Penitential Rite: "may almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and lead us all to eternal life."
And from the Word of God: "I set before you life and death, choose life, so that you and your children may live." Deut. 30:19
And remember, even if they stand you up at the gates of hell, don't back down.