John 11 Gospel of Life


“I am the resurrection and the life,” says the Lord. (John 11:25) [Click por Spanish]

The Gospel of Life is something concrete and personal, for it consists in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God who from all eternity receives life from the Father, and who has come among men to make them sharers in this gift.

That’s a quote from a letter written by a great hero. In the letter, the hero repeatedly cited the gospel passage we read at Sunday’s Mass. Any guesses about who the hero is? And what letter? Here’s another passage:

Through the words, the actions, and the very person of Jesus, man receives the complete truth about the value of human life. Through Christ, man can accept and fulfill completely the responsibility of loving and serving, of defending and promoting human life. The Gospel of Life was present in the revelation of the Old Testament and indeed has been written in the heart of every man and woman, echoing in every conscience from the beginning, from the time of creation itself.

Then the hero quoted Vatican II:

Christ confirmed with divine testimony that God is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death and to raise us up to life. (Evangelium Vitae 29)

Pope St. John Paul II wrote to us about the Gospel of Life. Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life!” Christ entrusted this solemn declaration to us, and He sustains us in our fidelity to it, by pouring out on us His grace, His life. Pope Francis has emphasized JPII’s message repeatedly. For example, Pope Francis said to an international association of Catholic health-care professionals:

Your being Catholic entails a greater responsibility to contemporary culture, by contributing to the recognition of the transcendent dimension of human life, the imprint of God’s creative work from the moment of conception. This is a task of the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide. The Lord is counting on you to spread the Gospel of Life.

Ok. Ready for a newsflash? We have some problems. As a country, los Estados Unidos. We face profound divisions among ourselves. These divisions make me think of another era. I’ve read quite a few books about the Civil War. And the political divisions we face remind me of the 1850’s.

President James Buchanan
President James Buchanan

Now, on the one hand, we don’t live like they lived in the 1850’s. Almost all of us can drive a car, and we freely drive all over the country. Back in the mid-nineteenth century, few northerners had traveled down south, or vice versa. These days we live in an America much more integrated by commerce and communication, without the distinct regional divide of north vs. south.

But, on the other hand, back in the 1850’s, Americans, in the north and in the south, had more basic assumptions in common than we have now. They disagreed about how to interpret the Bible, but they all regularly read the Bible. Even as they marched off to war against each other, they agreed on things that we can’t find a way to agree on now.

How did we wind up here, then? Profoundly divided as we are, in America? To me, the heart of the matter seems obvious. In 1973 the Supreme Court abandoned the truth and issued a ruling that has poisoned our national life ever since.

Since Roe v. Wade, our nation has had an open wound, literally. Thousands of innocent and defenseless people have bled to death at the hands of abortionists every day. And the wound never heals, because only the truth can heal it. And Roe v. Wade has banished the truth about abortion from our land.

This is not the reactionary and old-fashioned Church rejecting something new and modern. Roe v. Wade is based on old, debunked ideas. Abortion is nothing new; the ancient pagans practiced it. Violence and cruelty go way back.

The new thing is Jesus Christ’s Gospel of Life. Our heroic popes have given us 21st-century Catholics the new and invigorating truth of the Gospel. They have articulated our beautiful rallying cry: Every human life has immeasurable value and dignity! And God has given us a task: Love your neighbor! The Gospel of Life looks to me like the one and only thing that could actually heal the dangerous ideological divisions in our country.

john paul ii cardinal bergoglioThis is not Republican over Democrat. The Gospel of Life demands that we revere and love every life–the unborn, the poor, the undocumented immigrant. And the Gospel of Life demands that we make sacrifices in order to protect our environment, our “common home” as Pope Francis calls Mother Earth.

The profound wrongness of Roe v. Wade does not belong to one political party or another. It’s not one party or another that has sinned against the Gospel of Life. We have sinned against the Gospel of Life as a nation. And it’s not one party or another that needs the Gospel of Life in order to find a way forward. The United States of America needs the Gospel of Life in order to find a way forward.

Jesus Christ’s Gospel of Life can and will give us the firm foundation that we need. Standing on that foundation, we can work out our differences and find a way to prosper.

Our job as Catholics is: to stay focused on the message, to stay prayerful about it, and to live always in communion with the good and gentle Savior Who came into this world that we might have life.

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