In today’s Gospel Jesus and his disciples were on their journey toward Jerusalem, and while on the way they did not find welcome in a Samaritan village–not because Jesus had done anything to them at all, but only because Jesus’ destination was Jerusalem. You will remember, of course, the Samaritan woman at the well who reminded Jesus that Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans. There was quite a division between Jews and Samaritans–where they worshiped, how they worshiped, their understanding of God, and even their social norms and values. Jesus’ disciples thought to rain down fire from heaven to consume them, but Jesus would have none of it…I guess he’s called the prince of peace for good reason.
As we in the Catholic Church, our Christian brothers from other communities, and people of good will, celebrate the end of Roe v. Wade, many are quite celebratory, and rightfully so, many are angry about their supposed loss of liberty and reproductive rights and are worried about women who find themselves with unwanted pregnancies, and as a result take drastic, dangerous, and harmful actions causing harm to themselves.
Sadly, on this issue (and many others) our country remains divided. Like Jews and Samaritans, we often have trouble finding common ground. And like Jesus’ disciples then, many of Jesus’ disciples today are quick to call down fire to resolve the issue–but as we read in the Gospel, this is not Jesus’ way. Jesus demands more of us. He demands that we love and work towards peace. He demands that we roll up our sleeves, set our hand to the plow to find meaningful solutions to the anxiety and fears of the day. As Jesus’ disciples we must commit to the work not only of ending abortion, but to addressing the situations that leads to a woman desiring an abortion in the first place. And these are social structures and attitudes that must be changed. This takes work and commitment. For too many woman abortion promised an “easy fix” to take care of a problem, but too many others believe that ending abortion is also an easy fix. My brothers and sisters, there are no easy fixes–there is only work, there is only love, and there is only seeing others through the eyes of Jesus.
It might surprise many of you, that I am not actually anti-abortion. I am pro-life, and we are called to be pro-life, and that includes being against abortion, but is so much more. Jesus was not anti-anything. He was pro-life and worked to bring people back to the community of love and healing. Jesus was pro-life when he forgive sinners and welcomed them home. He was pro-life when he changed water into wine. He was pro-life when he said, “those who are without sin cast the first stone” as he stood alongside the woman caught in adultery. He was pro-life when he raised Lazarus from the dead. And he was pro-life when he fed, taught, and counseled others. Jesus wasn’t just against violence he was for life. And we have do to better than being against abortion to save the life of an unborn child–we must be for life to save the child and its mother as well. That’s much harder to do.
I received an email this past week from The California Catholic Conference of Bishops. It read, “[We] are fervently committed to ensuring women in California know they are supported and that there are options when facing an unplanned pregnancy. We challenge lawmakers to provide equitable assistance and commit new funding and resources for maternity and childcare. California needs to be a sanctuary for women, children, and families struggling to thrive in our state over those seeking abortions. It’s time to reverse the state’s priorities. It is not enough to claim you are for life; you must be the hands and feet of Christ working to make it a reality. Be a loud voice, a shining light, and a beacon of hope.”
We who are pro-life must be about the work of bringing love, acceptance, forgiveness, counseling, and hope to women and girls in this state and nation. There are no easy fixes with this, but after forty five years of legal abortion, and over 50 million abortions in the U.S. alone, we celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to end legal abortion, and we must be about the work of legislation and communities of support that are pro-life, pro-women, pro-adoption, pro-counseling and resources, and pro-families. That’s what being pro-life is all about.