Feast of St Oliver Plunkett 2017
MASS FOR THE PROTECTION OF LIFE
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
Church of Saint Saviour, Dominick Street, 1st July 2017
“We are here this afternoon to pray and to invoke the healing power of Jesus Christ on our society. We come to invoke for our society a message of life, a message of life in our times, which will reflect the truth of the creator of life.
As men and women of faith, we are called to protect and foster God’s gift of life. Life is God’s gift and we are all called to ensure that every person can truly flourish in the enjoyment of that gift. That calling must be realised in the first place in our own hearts. We respond to the gift of life that we have received from God, through the way we ourselves live and through the manner in which we work to allow God’s gift of life to flourish in others.
Life is a gift but not a gift given to us just for ourselves. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and the believer in Jesus Christ must be one who has a passion to enable all to live life to the full. The believer in Jesus Christ can never think that any life is so valueless that it can be disposed of, thrown away, or considered a life whose value is second-rate to ours. Being pro-life means that we have an uncompromised passion for life, for what life is and never categorize any life to be of lesser values than others.
Being pro-life is not an ideology of slogans. It involves the way we live. The way we live can turn out to be a counter-witness to what we should stand for. We can fail to be true missionaries of life though so many of the decisions we make. It is even possible for men and women to claim that they are pro-life, but lead a narcissistic, self-centred understanding of their own lives. What a self-centred life witnesses to is far removed from the fullness of life as service that Jesus Christ preached.
Being pro-life means that we are always on the side of life and life in its fullness. It means that we fight to avoid the emptiness of so many visions of our society and that we continually remember that we ourselves need conversion to Christ who is light and life.
As believers in Jesus who is life and light, we must be in the forefront in doing what we can so that everyone can flourish in his or her own life. We are convinced of the value of every human life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death. We are convinced of the dignity of every life at every moment of the existence of every person. We are convinced that in cases of crisis, mother and unborn child have equal right to life and we pay tribute to a medical tradition which has been inspired by such a principal of life and which has served and saved lives.
Being pro-life means especially that we are called to accompany and be alongside those who are suffering and facing challenges in their life. We think of those challenged by crisis pregnancy; we think of young people who have grown up adrift in a society where the dignity of life can be so undermined; we think of those whose lives end up oppressed or repressed.
Being prolife means witnessing a special way to the love and the mercy of God and knowing how to stand by those who find the challenges of life difficult. We must be with those who find life difficult because there are not enough people who take the time to be with them when they are troubled and give them a guiding hand. We recognise the economic challenges people face as parents, especially lone parents, but the answer is to ensure that lone parents receive the financial and human assistance they deserve. They are true witnesses to life.
The pro-life message is a message of love. It can only be preached and proclaimed in love, never with a language of judgementalism, hatred, or harshness. Being pro-life means dealing with everyone with respect, just as being pro-life in today’s society deserves being treated with respect for the right of any citizen to make their views and convictions known. Being pro-life is a way to live as active citizens in defending that fundamental principle of democracy that every life has equal value, that we are all equal before the law. A society that begins to establish its own categories of lives that are considered of lesser value than others, begins a process that undermines democracy.
The pro-life message is a message of love. Jesus was not one to point the finger at sinners or throw the first stone of condemnation. Jesus was the one who was merciful and had a special love of sinners, a love that did more for their conversion than any kind of narrow-minded condemnation.
We are here this afternoon to pray and to invoke the healing power of Jesus Christ on our society. The Gospel reading which we heard is interesting that it effectively records a day in the life of the Lord. Jesus’ day is spent healing. He heals the servant of the Centurion, he heals the mother-in-law of Simon Peter and as the day comes to an end they bring him many who were sick and were troubled. Jesus touches each individually; he has time for each one; he realises the anxiety and trouble in each of their hearts.
We pray that our Church will every day seek conversion to being more deeply a Church that cares, which helps, protects and loves every individual life. We pray for a Church that works to lift the burdens that trouble hearts and will witness more effectively to the Jesus whose love can touch, convert and bring warmth to every heart.
Jesus, the way the truth and the lives help us to mirror your love in all that we do.”