There are times when a Scripture reading sort of smacks me upside my head, and that happened a couple of days ago. The Gospel reading at daily Mass was Matthew 5:43-48. Christ was explaining to His disciples that, while it is very easy, and certainly not praiseworthy, to love those who love us back, it is quite difficult to love those whom we find hard to take. That includes people who have a fascination with the culture of death or who lack the faith and confidence that God really is the author of every human being’s life.
Speaking during a homily, one of my favorite priests stated, “I don’t know about you but I am guilty of this quite often. I really need to try harder to ‘be perfect’ as Christ explains His Father is perfect.”
Reflecting on that, I couldn’t help but put this in the context of the headlines this week. The usual spate of death and denial was everywhere. Let’s look, for example, at one entitled, “My happy abortion: One woman’s guilt-free story.” Jessica DelBalzo tells RH Reality Check readers that she was raised in a Catholic family but that she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in favor of choice—meaning the choice to abort or not to abort a preborn child.
DelBalzo could be someone who has lost her way and is searching for Christ or she could be someone whose conscience is dead to truth. We don’t know which way she might turn, but I at least know it would be very hard to love her based on her apparent pleasure at having aborted her own child. But then I think, isn’t Christ telling us that God permits the rain to fall on the just and the unjust because He is Father to each human being? Yes, that is the message. So perhaps Jessica should receive more of my love and prayer than those with whom I agree.
I also read an article entitled, “Anti-Abortion Groups Push to Outlaw Contraceptives by Redefining Personhood” in which Marie Diamond writes about the notion that efforts pursued by American Life League, Personhood USA and others to humanize the preborn baby from his biological beginning are dangerous. She relegates us to the realm of absurdity. Of course in her world we have to be! Otherwise she would have to admit that abortion, whether caused by surgical, chemical, or other means, results in the denial of human rights for an entire class of people.
Diamond writes, “While ‘personhood’ laws have always been a transparent attempt to outlaw abortion, the legislation supported by groups like Personhood USA goes much further in trying to assert government control over women’s bodies.”
Diamond cannot admit that the activities she supports have been deceiving women, misrepresenting the true facts about abortion and contraception, and therefore condoning acts of killing under the guise of choice. Further, Diamond does not admit that she is troubled by this, but she does point out the fact that if human personhood became the cornerstone of state constitutions, and the federal Constitution as well, preborn babies would be acknowledged as having the same human rights as every other human being.
Maybe Diamond does not know that efforts to acquire legal recognition of human personhood are not about overturning Roe v. Wade or ending abortion. No! Our human personhood efforts are about admitting that human rights must include the right to life for every one of us from biological beginning onward. Pursuit of personhood has never been exclusively about abortion; it has always been about recognition of human dignity.
So again, rather than write a scathing commentary responding to Diamond or DelBalzo, as a follower of Christ I need to love them into truth, pray for them to turn to Christ and do what I can to help them see the wisdom of pursuing equality for all persons—born and preborn.
And that’s the challenge each of us faces. So I have a suggestion for reflection. Think about someone you know, public figure or private citizen, who is irritating you because of his or her support for the deadliest war ever waged—the war against the preborn—and write, call or e-mail that person and say quite simply that you have adopted him/her into your prayer life and that you are praying for him/her to turn to Christ.
From now on, every time you encounter someone like Ms. Diamond or Ms. DelBalzo, make it a point to pray for patience for yourself, conversion for your foe and the ability to love that person to truth. We can do no less.