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27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (Respect Life Sunday) – Homily

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Genesis 2:18-24
Hebrews 2:9-11
Mark 10:2-16
October 4, 2015

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

God created the Garden of Eden and everything in it, including man.  God knew what He had created was good.  He knew the “man” was not meant to be alone.  God had given Adam life itself so He knew Adam better Adam knew himself.

For Adam to find fulfillment and all he was meant to be, God created Eve.  When Adam saw Eve, he knew that she was the bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.  This is not simply a physical reference to the fact the story says the Eve was created from Adam’s rib.  It goes deeper than that.

No, it is about a spiritual connection.  In Eve, Adam finds fulfillment and becomes a better person for having known Eve.  In coming together as male and female, complimenting one another, their spiritual togetherness is manifested physically.

People talk about divorce and the reasons for it.  Right now, I would like to talk together about why a couple should come together.  Some will talk about making each other “happy”.  I like to think of it as realizing we become better for having the person with us.

Happiness is often seen as what makes us happy today.  We need to look beyond that.  When we looking at someone you might be dating, are you interested in their body or what they can do?  The person is so much more.  What we can do does not define who we are.

Do we see the person we are dating as a means for pleasure and when they no longer make us happy we leave them or do we share our beliefs with them?  Are we willing to make sacrifices for them?  It is when we are willing to make sacrifice that the love of a couple becomes a sign of God’s love (Jesus’ death on the Cross).

It is when we look beyond the physical that we can see the gift that life is, to understand that we are not defined by what we can do but rather by who we are inside and what we believe.

Only then, do we understand that every life is worth living.

If we only see a person for what they can do, then it might seem appropriate that when a person can no longer “do” stuff, that it is time to end their life.  There are people who think people should be able, when faced with a terminal diagnosis, to choose to end their life.

People who think this way talk about ‘dying with dignity.’  They talk in terms of ending suffering and pain.  I can relate in wanting to avoid the pain and suffering but I don’t get how this is ‘dying with dignity.’  Ending one’s life in this way says to me that when the person becomes severely ill and cannot no longer do work, that they are no longer worth having around.

I believe the best way to show dignity for the person is by showing we value them for who they are and not just what they can do.  In desiring to have them remain with us, we are saying they are still important to us.

When facing end of life decisions, when is it killing and when it is turning it over to God?

We would like clear answers.  We want the decisions to be black and white but when people are involved, often the decisions are not clear.

I think about my mother’s final days in this world.  She had had emphysema for around ten years.  It slowly worsened and she could do less and less.  She couldn’t even walk very far, needing a power chair to get around.  Even in her declining health she was still “mom”.  I kept doing what I could for her.

In her final weeks, they found lung cancer and began treatment but it was too late.  Barely four weeks after they found the cancer and began treatment, she was placed on a ventilator while we waited to see if the treatment would work.  When the treatment couldn’t do enough, it became time to make a decision about the ventilator.

My brothers and I made the decision to withdraw the ventilator (fortunately, mom had said she didn’t want to remain on the machines in such circumstances).  In her case, she became unresponsive.  Were we killing her by pulling the ventilator?  No.  We were allowing the natural cycle of life to take its course.  The ventilator was artificial means.

We did not act to end her life.  We were handing it over to God to make the choice.  Nothing was done to hasten her death.  No medicines were given to end her life.  We just let nature take its course.

Sometimes when people ask about making end of life decisions I ask are they “giving up” or “letting go”.  By “giving up” I mean are we sick and tired of the pain and suffering and want to make it end or are they “letting go” and placing it in God’s hands.

“Giving up” means saying my life is not worth anything now.  “Letting go” means appreciating all the time we have had in this world but realizing we won’t live forever.

How do you look at other people?  How do you look at yourself?  Do you see a physical body or do you see the real person?  Do you see their soul?

Every life is worth living.

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