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Respect Life Month

From Pastor Becker’s heart to yours…..

For some time, October has been observed in the body of Christ as Respect Life Month.  I remember the joy and excitement I experienced upon discovering 25 years ago at a Fall Pastor’s Conference in Pigeon Forge, a copy of The Gospel of Life by Pope John Paul II (Three Rivers Press, April 17, 1995).  I took it as a sign of hope that if more Christian leaders spoke the truth in love, a culture of life might be restored in our world.  Sadly, my hope no longer burns as brightly as it once did.  Too many pastors and churches have been silent and missing in action for too long.  I tremble when I pray Psalm 98: “…for he comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”
 
Twenty-five years ago, Pope St. John Paul II wrote that the Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ saving message to the world (Evangelium vitae 1)  In taking on human flesh, dwelling among us, and sacrificing his very life for our redemption, Christ reveals the profound dignity of every human person.  This God-given dignity does not change with our stage of life, abilities, level of independence, or any other varying circumstance.

Rather, it is rooted in the permanent fact that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God, created to share in the very life of God himself.  The human person is a “manifestation of God in this world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory” (EV 34).  And we must reflect this truth in how we act and how we treat one another.

In his encyclical on the Gospel of life, Pope St. John Paul II recognizes the full range of threats against human life, from poverty and malnutrition to murder and war.  He places particular emphasis, however, on threats to life at its beginning and end—precisely where it is most in need of protection.  In modern times, children in their mother’s wombs and those approaching the end of their lives are certainly among the “least of these” in our world’s estimation.  Practices such as abortion and assisted suicide tragically reject the truth that human life is always to be cherished and defended with loving concern.
As the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic encyclical, let us reflect on how we personally live out the Gospel:
• Do I talk about and act towards others as I would talk about and treat Jesus himself?  
• Do I inform myself of the Church’s teachings and engage in the civic arena as first a follower of Christ?  
• Do I support and advocate for laws and policies that protect and defend human life?  
• Do I help pregnant and parenting mothers in need?  Am I ready to support a loved one nearing death?”
(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities)

Dear people of God, I pray that our hearts. minds and conversations may be captivated by the Gospel of Life, and not by the false propaganda which daily assaults us, coming from “the cosmic powers over this present darkness, … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  
   
“Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn't run or labor for nothing.”
Philippians 2:16            

Pastor Paul Becker      

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Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®
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