St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homily for 39th Anniversary of Roe Vs Wade and the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The following is the homily delivered by Deacon Kevin Lander on January 22, 2011 for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B). It was also the 39th anniversary of Roe Vs Wade which disallowed many restrictions on abortion in the United States.

Monday, January 22, 1973. What were you doing on that day? If you are like me you probably don't remember. Then again I was only 10 years old, so I am using that my excuse. You know it's kind of strange. There are so many sad events in our lives that are etched in our hearts forever. The day Kennedy was shot, the day Martin Luther King Jr was shot, the loss of a loved one, the day the twin towers fell, maybe even the day Michael Jackson or some other celebrity died. Yet none of these compare to the millions of lives lost since that fateful day in 1973. Sadly, as we mark the 39th anniversary this weekend, it might have passed without a second thought. Today we remember that somber event that occurred on January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court voted to decriminalize abortion. One of the many changes in the new Roman Missal sets January 22nd, as a special day in dioceses throughout the United States. It is a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children. This year, since the 22nd falls on a Sunday though, that special day is moved to Monday, the 23rd. In the 39 years since Roe v. Wade, millions and millions of babies have died in the name of a law that says it's ok, they aren't really babies yet. After all, we don't want to offend sensitivities by using the word 'baby'. It's convenient for people to use words like embryo or fetus. That way, we distance ourselves, that way it seems ok; it's just an operation; sort of like having a wart removed. That way, we can hide from the reality. We can call it whatever we want, but to imply that the development taking place in a woman's uterus is anything other than another human is simply ridiculous and insulting to anyone with any sense of morality.

If I am making you a bit uncomfortable, I apologize, but I don't think as Catholic Christians we can ignore our responsibility to defend life. Think about what we heard in the first reading today. Jonah pleads with the people of Nineveh, and "when God saw by the Ninevites actions how they turned from their evil ways, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out". Now you may be thinking, why is this crazy deacon on his high horse, I don't endorse abortion, and maybe, just maybe God should share some of that wrath on those who have had an abortion, and those who perform them. Maybe you are thinking 'yeah, that's justice...go get'em God!'. But I suggest to you that we must first look within ourselves. We must ask ourselves what is it we have done to be like Jonah, have we done enough, have we done anything, what actions have we taken to repent our country from abortions dark grip upon our society? 

I often think of a priest I once met. Very close to his parish, there was an abortion clinic. He was so overwhelmed by sorrow at the loss for all of those innocent lives, that he knew he must do something. He prayed about what to do, and when he was certain of his path, he approached to the bishop of that diocese. I want to begin Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week in he said. The bishop, wary of the request because of the amount of coordination it would take to ensure that the Blessed Sacrament was never left unattended, asked the priest why he wished to do this. The priest simply said, I want to close down that darn abortion clinic (darn was not the word he used). Nonetheless the bishop told him that he would have to consider the request. After some time, having heard nothing from his bishop, the pastor went again, with the same request. The bishop again asked why this was so important; and the pastor again replied that he wanted to close down that darned abortion clinic. The bishop neither answered yes or no. After some time, the pastor approached the bishop for a third time, the pastor again said he wanted to have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours/day, 7 days/week to pray that the abortion clinic would close. Finally, the bishop reluctantly agreed, cautioning the pastor that it was critical that multiple people be in the chapel praying before the Blessed Sacrament at all times, day and night. And so, the pastor began continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, with the stated intention of praying for the closure of the abortion clinic. Attendance was never an issue, people readily took time to go to the chapel, 24 hours/day, to pray, reflect, and just be in the presence of Jesus, begging for an end to that 'darn' clinic. Do not ever doubt the power of prayer. Do not for one second ignore its merits; its graces. My friends, within months, the abortion clinic closed its doors. 

St. Paul warns the Corinthians in today's second reading, that time is running out. Paul felt that Christ was coming again very soon, and he warned is fellow Christians to be ready. Well, 2000 years later we still wait, but are we ready? That question applies to so many aspects of our life, but today think about what you would say if Jesus were to ask you; if he were to ask me, what I have done to fight the senseless killing of innocent babies? I know we are not all called to be outspoken advocates for the sanctity of human life. I know that not everyone has a gift of being able to speak out, to challenge our legal system, or enlist others to help in doing so. But my friends, we all possess one powerful gift, to be used individually, at home, and as a parish. Prayer. lf prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament can lead to the closing of an abortion clinic, we must ask ourselves why we are not dropping to our knees right now in petition. It's that simple. 

Today, in his Gospel, Mark recounts Jesus' calling his disciples to follow him. I guarantee you that they had no idea what they were getting into. I guarantee you that they, like Jesus himself found strength, courage, and grace in prayer. They built upon the faith that Christ himself started; they died for the faith that we share today. I beg you, all of you, to begin earnest prayer to put an end to abortion. In those prayers we MUST, I repeat, we MUST also pray for those who perform abortions, and especially for those who have had an abortion, for these people often suffer inexpressible sorrow, and we tend forget about them. You see, as Catholics, it's our duty to act in this way. It's our duty to do everything we can to fight those things that attack our faith. Prayer is the one weapon we all have, and what a weapon it is. Starting today, let's let our God hear our plea, let's let our God know how much we desire to make a difference in the way this country views abortion. The lyrics from a favorite Advent song remind us that when we stand together to stand against hell, the name of this people is Emmanuel. When we stand together, when we pray together, God is with us, God will intervene, God will make a difference, God...will answer our prayers.

Kevin L Lander was ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Pittsburgh on June 11, 2011. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog. Welcome to the Catholic Blog Directory. I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--a Catholic Carnival, a weekly gathering in which Catholic Bloggers share their best posts with each other. This week's host post is at


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