What a treasure God gives us in the gift of life. By the power of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we are recreated in God’s love and one day will share eternal life with him in paradise. Doesn’t knowing that make you appreciate this life all the more?
In a little farming village in China, about 200 miles south of Shanghai, lives an 88 year old woman named Lou Zow Ying. Everyone just calls her Grandma Lou. Since 1972, Grandma Lou has helped her family by collecting and recycling items found in trash cans and dumpsters. Now that, in itself, really isn’t anything special. But Grandma Lou is known throughout the region: As the woman who has rescued more than 30 babies abandoned in the trash.
Those children were discarded by their parents because China has a strict one-child per family policy. The Chinese government imposes a very high fine on families that have more than one child. So when additional children are born, some parents simply toss their live babies into the trash. Fortunately for more than 30 of them, Grandma Lou came along.
Does this shock you? It really shouldn’t because Americans do basically the same thing. Since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark abortion case of Roe vs. Wade, over 52 million babies have been taken from their mothers’ wombs and discarded as medical waste.
Later this month, on January 25th, an estimated 250,000 people will assemble on the National Mall in Washington DC. For the 40th consecutive year they will join the ‘March for Life’ down Constitution Avenue, past the U.S. Capitol, and end up in front of the Supreme Court Building. They will march to give witness to their commitment to preserving the sacredness of life as God has given it to us.
Our Founding Fathers genuinely understood the value of human life. Somewhere along the way, however, that value has been eroded by controversies that were never envisioned by the framers of our Constitution. Today we must deal with issues like: abortion, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, and the question of whether or not life begins at conception.
The annual March for Life is a call for all Catholics to renew their personal commitment to defend the most vulnerable members of the human family – our unborn children. It’s an opportunity for Catholics to speak out in the public square for the restoration of our nation’s moral conscience.
In today’s Gospel we hear of the Baptism of Our Lord which is one of the few times when each person of the Blessed Trinity (Father – Son – and Holy Spirit) is revealed at the same time. That occurrence does not happen by coincidence. God is clearly showing us that His love and our eternal life are bound together forever in the creative and saving work of the Trinity.
Our life here on Earth begins and ends in God’s love. It starts with the reflection of his creative love found in the sacrament of marriage; is nurtured with the birth of children; reaches its purpose in the family; and is proclaimed in the dignity of life found in our natural death. Whether you are married or not, everyone is called to raise their voice in defense of life NOW…before it’s too late!
Within the family, we have a moral obligation to pass on to our children, an appreciation of the intrinsic value of life and the responsibility to respect unborn life.
Now I know that is easier said than done. So, let me give you a way to explain it to your children and grandchildren, your nieces and nephews so that they’ll understand it: By telling them a story!
Many of you have heard of Dr. Seuss. In 1954, Dr. Seuss wrote a children’s book called, Horton Hears a Who. What you may not know is that many people believe that story has a pro-life message in it, especially because the most famous line of the story is: “a person’s a person no matter how small.”
The story was about an elephant named Horton who hears a speck of dust talking to him. Horton discovers that the speck of dust, sitting on top of a clover, is really a community of microscopic people, called the Whos. Because of his very large ears Horton is able to hear the Whos quite well. So he befriends them, especially the Mayor of Whoville, who asks Horton to protect them from harm. Horton agrees and is seen all over the jungle, carrying this clover in his trunk and talking to it. The problem was that none of the other animals in the jungle heard the tiny voices coming from the speck of dust. They thought that Horton was nuts, so they ridiculed him, locked him up, and tried very hard to take the clover away from him so they could destroy it.
Eventually, Horton is put on trial, presided over by a big kangaroo. In order to save his little friends, Horton implores the Mayor of Whoville to get everyone together, and to shout as loud as they can so that the other animals in the jungle will hear them and spare their lives. They do it, but it’s not enough. The other animals still can’t hear the Whos. So Horton asks the Mayor to see if there is anyone else in town who is not shouting. The Mayor goes searching door to door, until he finds a very small Who hidden away in the corner of an apartment.
Well, what happens next is very important, so I’d like to pick up the story here by reading an excerpt from the book. Here’s what it says:
“A very small, very small shirker named Jo-Jo,
Was standing, just standing, and bouncing a Yo-Yo!
Not making a sound! Not a yipp! Not a chirp!
And the Mayor rushed inside and grabbed the young twerp!
As he climbed with the lad up the Eiffelberg Tower,
“This,” cried the Mayor “is your town’s darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their Country!” he said.
“We’ve GOT to make noise in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”
Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “YOPP!”
And that Yopp…That one small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally, at last! From that speck on that clover.
Their voices were heard! They rang out clear and clean
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean?”
They proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the Smallest of All!”
Imagine that…the smallest voice made all the difference!
The debate over whether or not Dr. Seuss intended his children’s book to have a pro-life message still continues: even though it was written 19 years before the Roe vs. Wade decision. But we all know that God is not bound by time, and maybe He did inspire Dr. Seuss to be a modern day prophet.
Maybe, just maybe, Horton represents the Church. The Church hears the cries of the weak and small, but it needs the help of all of us to save them. And just maybe we are a little like Jo-Jo, sitting on the sidelines, content with our own lives, and not wanting to get involved, or thinking that our one little voice won’t make a difference. Well, as we saw in this story, every voice DOES indeed matter!
I’d like to end this extra-long homily by mimicking Dr. Seuss, with a reminder of how important life is and how essential it is that everyone’s voice is heard.
So, with my apologies to Dr. Seuss, here’s one last story:
In just a few weeks many people will walk,
To show all the lawmakers…that it’s more than just talk.
The stakes are so high…with lives on the line
The voice to be heard is yours and it’s mine.
Traveling that far, just to be fair
May not be feasible for all, but you can be there in prayer.
The Church calls us to action. She says do something, please.
Speak up for what’s right, pray to God on your knees.
Be brave, save the babies, just like Grandma Lou.
Be brave and speak up, like the littlest Who.
Remember your mission; God is with you this day.
He will never abandon you, so He begs you to pray.
The issue is life – so precious and new.
It’s all up to us! So what will you do?