HOMILY FOR THE MARCH FOR LIFE MASS, MAY 13th 2010
Cathédrale-basilique Notre-Dame d’Ottawa
Readings: Acts 18.1-18; Psalm 112 (113); John 16.16-20
Your Eminence Cardinal Ouellet, my fellow bishops, brother priests, faithful deacons, religious men and women, (other distinguished guests), my fellow “Workers for Life”—dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
When we read or hear proclaimed the Acts of the Apostles, especially in this Easter season, we have the tendency to telescope all the events of these brave men and women and see them as taking place in a very abbreviated timeline. The exact opposite is the case.
Saint Paul laboured for decades in the service of the Lord Jesus. He tramped the dusty roads for years, endured, beatings, stoning, shipwreck, imprisonment, rejection, opposition, and indifference.
Just before the passage we heard this morning, Paul was in Athens where he gave a brilliant defense of the Faith to the premiere philosophers and thinkers of his day– and was laughed at. He preached in synagogues throughout the cities - and been thrown out.
The Apostle seeks to speak to the people of his day and seemingly gets little positive response or, maybe, even notice. The same is repeated even today.
But Paul perseveres with his missionary enterprise. Some listen and become heralds in their own right such as Priscilla and Aquila. The number of followers grows and the Light of a new Reality begins to cast its rays upon a darkened world.
Whether the message is delivered to Jews or Gentiles, the power of truth touches and inflames the hearts of believers. Yes, a long, arduous task lies in front of all of them.
The power of truth is not immediately evident to all who hear it. But the power of truth triumphs over deceit, lies, ignorance and evil as “Christ rose triumphant over the grave”.
Today, I call you once again to walk with Christ for Truth. Whether the message we bring is accepted or not, we walk with Christ.
In spite of being frozen out of the mainstream, we walk with Christ. In arduous debates and in long vigils at the end of telephone help lines, we walk with Christ.
And on Parliament Hill and in the streets, not only of Ottawa but of the many provincial capitals today we walk with Christ in testimony to the humanity of all persons, born and preborn, ill and well, old and young.
We gather as a living sign of swelling numbers who declare that Truth cannot be conveniently compartmentalized and put aside.
We come together to speak out that the crimes against humanity of abortion and mercy-killing demand justice. We are here – and will be there on the Hill - to continue on the long road to build a new Culture of Life in our day, and this both in our nation Canada and in our 21st century world.
Jesus himself challenges us with his prophetic teaching that, “You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice. You will have pain but your pain will turn into joy”.
All of us here today know that. It is a difficult work that we have undertaken, but already there are signs that our society is growing more aware.
Consider: the resounding defeat of the euthanasia bill C-384. Consider the refusal to use tax dollars to pay for the deaths of the preborn in developing countries. Consider the constant valiant work of Members of Parliament and senators to keep the pro-life issues alive in our country. All of these are successes.
Look around at the growing numbers of young people here this morning who testify, by their presence, to the steadfastness of the Truth.
Remember the babies that are saved each year in 40 Days for Life and in the silent witness outside abortion clinics; and remember the lives that are now treasured!
Look at the hard work to build up this New Culture of Life that you all do and for which the bishops of Canada and I sincerely thank you.
I ask you to continue, to persevere with courage and fortitude in the cause of life, to continue to walk with Christ and bear His message of Life and truth: on Parliament Hill, in your schools and on your campuses, in your homes and in hospitals.
Continue to speak in the New Media, in your market places and meetings.
Dear friends, “The Lord has done marvelous things” and He will continue to do marvelous things in our day.
Photo: CCN/Deborah Gyapong