27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C & Respect Life Sunday

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10
October 2, 2016

The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith.  It seems like a good request.  I suspect many of us, myself included, make the same request.  It’s a challenge to believe.  We can feel like we need more faith!

Yet, what is Jesus response?  “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you.

I guess I don’t have much faith because I can’t get the mulberry tree to uproot and move.  I would say I need more faith but how do we measure our faith?

We might feel like we need more faith when our prayers are not being answered.  Are there times when we repeat the words of Habakkuk, “I cry for help but you do not listen!”?

Do we cry out “violence” but nothing changes?  ‘Why must I look at misery?

Every time there is a shooting, people cry out to God.

Every time there is a terrorist attack, people cry out to God.

When one sees the misery of those who don’t have a home to live in or food to eat, a cry goes out to God.

Will it ever change?

I think part of the problem is that people don’t really grasp the “vision” that God has given us on how to live.  People hear God’s commandment to love but don’t listen to God to hear what it means to love.  They think this means just telling them we love them and never talking about anything they do as wrong.

I think there are a lot of people don’t respect life.  I’ll go so far as to say that I wonder if the people who commit shootings and terrorism even respect their own lives, let alone the lives of others.

Respecting life is not just a matter of crying out when there is a shooting or terrorist attack.  To respect life requires us to everyone as a unique individual, given life by God, and having all the same rights and deserving respect.

If we truly respect life, it doesn’t matter if the person can take care of themselves or is totally dependent on others.  Respecting life means respecting the person at a core level even when they have done something wrong.

October is Respect Life month in our Catholic faith.  When people hear the Catholic Church speak about respecting life, many know that our Church is against abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, but I think a lot of people, including a lot of Catholics, doesn’t understand why our Church is against these things.

These are important issues and they are not easy to talk out.  Our church teaching doesn’t match popular opinion.  I don’t feel it is easy even to stand up in a Catholic Church and talk about this issues, let alone trying to talk about them to people outside the Church.

Yet, as Paul writes to Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control.

If we are going to respect life, we need the gifts of the Spirit (knowledge, wisdom, and understanding) to know what it means to respect life and we need the gift of courage to speak up.

Respecting life very much includes life as it begins in the womb.  It includes life at its end (the tomb) in this world when our bodies are tired and week from age or illness.

Respecting life also means every moment in between (from womb to tomb).  It means feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty.  It means understanding the needs of those who have committed crimes.  They may deserve punishment but they need compassion.

We are nearing the end of our Jubilee Year of Mercy but the need for mercy will never end.  We count on God’s mercy for ourselves and we should be moved by mercy to respect all life.

Maybe we know what we can do to respect life.  Maybe our first step is to learn why the Church calls us to respect life.  We need to make sure we have a well-formed conscience in order to live out our faith.

It’s no secret we are in a presidential election year.  There are others offices open for election.  You must decide for yourselves who you are going to vote for but it is important for us to vote.  Our Church calls us to discern what is important to us and to learn where the candidates stand on the issues.  There are lots of things to consider in selecting a candidate.  Is respecting life one of them for you?

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