Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
These words of great trust in God, and self-giving, were those of Mary as the Angel Gabriel came to her, and announced the conception of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Today we, in the Catholic Church, celebrate that moment. A moment where Mary put aside all her fear and her wondering and offered herself totally to the will of God and to the gift of life.
It is little wonder then, that St John Paul II chose this day 20 years ago, to promulgate his Encyclical Letter “Evangelium Vitae – On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life.”
This great encyclical has informed and encouraged many in the pro-life movement as we work daily to build a culture of life. For us here at Family Life International NZ, it is at the very heart of everything we do!
In it we are reminded that each and every one of us are called to be a people of life and for life and that just like the Angel Gabriel we are being asked to profess with humility and courage the Gospel of Life, which, St John Paul II reminds us, is the person of Jesus (see #29).
When St John Paul II appealed to every person to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!” (#5), he meant every human life from the moment of conception through to the very last stages of life. He also reminded us that “we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking.” (#82).
Outlining so many important ways we can promote a culture of life and a civilization of love, St John Paul II appeals to us to “discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit.”
And so today, on the feast of the Annunciation, and on the anniversary of this great encyclical, we once again take up the challenge, in humility, to pray unceasingly, to speak courageously, to serve with love, and to work tirelessly for the renewal of society, so that every human life from conception through to natural death is respected and given what is inherently theirs – a right to life.