The pro-life movement makes the case for the sanctity of human life by invoking the overwhelming mountain of evidence provided by science. Scientific evidence persuades secularists. However, many people of faith still accept abortion as a matter of personal conscience. This upcoming weekend’s Mass readings should give these ‘pro-choice’ Christians pause, for it makes a compelling case for the theology of life.
As background for non-Catholics, the Catholic Church produces a lectionary on a three year-cycle, which typically includes an old testament passage, a Psalm, an epistle, and a gospel reading. Many Protestant churches use the same lectionary, because the readings are often arranged around a theme which connects them, which is often stated in the Psalm.
The second reading this weekend comes from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians:
Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that YOU are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in YOU?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
Emphasis added. So what does this mean?
The pronoun ‘you’ can certainly be interpreted in the plural and the singular. In the plural, it can refer to the Church. In the singular, it can refer to our bodies. And if a person is with child, that unique person’s body, no matter the size, is also a temple.
The Spirit of God dwells in both, and our bodies are holy, says St. Paul.
The temple of God
The Gospel reading comes from Matthew 5:38-48. Priests for Life points out how pro-life this passage is:
“The Lord Jesus makes universal the commandment of love. The Father’s “sun rises on the bad and the good, he rains on the just and the unjust.” So Christians are not to draw false boundaries to their love. Christ, after all, now has full authority in heaven and on earth. He has embraced and redeemed the entire universe, and has given us a share in his dominion and in his power to love. “All these are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s,” Paul tells us in the Second Reading. So loving everybody comes with the territory.
One of the false distinctions, therefore, is between born and unborn. There can be no difference in our love. The size or age or level of dependency of a child cannot exempt us from loving and caring for the life of that child. Nor can it exempt us from recognizing the personhood of that child in the law. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This does not simply mean we love our neighbor in the way or to the extent that we love ourselves. It means we love our neighbor as a person like ourselves. We recognize that whatever differences there may be between ourselves and our neighbors, they still have the same human dignity that we share. We are to see through all the differences, recognize that common dignity, and love them as a person like ourselves.
Ultimately, this command of universal love is not simply an external command. It is not God saying, “Do this because I told you,” as if it were just an item on a list of do’s and don’ts. Rather, it is because we are called to be like God. “You must be perfected as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Perfected in love, in service, in selflessness. “Be holy, for I am holy,” the Lord declares to Moses and the Israelites. His command of love is followed by the declaration, “I am the Lord.” When we hold up the standard of love for born and unborn alike, we are not claiming to be better than anyone else. Rather, we are pointing to the one who made us all, and who wants us all to be just like him.”
The entire Bible is a theology of life. If you believe in God and the divinity of Christ, and yet if you hold pro-choice views, Iowans for LIFE encourages you to prayerfully reflect on the seriousness of these scripture passages.