With just one day to go in this year’s Lenten 40 Days for Life vigil, the theme of the Washington DC March for Life held earlier this year keeps coming to the forefront of my mind. The theme truly encompasses the motivation and aims of the pro-life movement and it accurately describes the 40 Days for Life efforts. What was that theme? Love Saves Lives.
Love for our pre-born brothers and sisters motivates us to decry the violence of abortion.
The same love sees us reach out to mothers who feel that the only solution to the difficulties they face is to terminate the life of the child in her womb. We offer practical support and work through issues so that she might see she is not alone, and give her reasons to hope.
Again, it is love that sees the deep wounds men and women who have experienced abortion carry, and seeks to offer comfort and support so that healing and wholeness can begin.
It is love that compels us to consider the eternal destination of those who participate in abortion, motivating us to pray for their conversion and to treat every person with dignity and respect despite the atrocity they partake in, because they too are made in the image and likeness of God.
Yes, love saves lives physically and spiritually.
Our love is not of our own making. Scripture reminds us that “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
One regular, passer-by at the Auckland vigil stopped a week or so ago to excitedly share the scan images of his 7 week pre-born “angel”. A few days earlier, he told me his favourite Scripture was Hebrews 13:2
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
He explained that this baby is his angel and while he had many demons he was trying to conquer, he was determined to be a good dad. He then reminded me that if a person has faith as small as a mustard seed they can move mountains. “You know,” he said, “if I wanted to move a mountain, even though my faith is as small as a mustard seed, I’d still do it one rock at a time.”
That is precisely what we in the pro-life movement attempt to do despite our own personal weaknesses and difficulties. Sacrificing self, and with faith in Almighty God, we reach out in love to individuals, drawing them to a place where they can embrace the gift of life, to search for healing and forgiveness and ultimately to seek Christ who is the only one who can bring peace.
Moving the great mountain of abortion, entrenched in the psyche of so many as a “right” and a “choice” is not an easy task. However, it can be done – one person at a time.
Just two weeks into this year’s vigil, participants were encouraged when the news that a husband and wife, who had attended an appointment at the Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC) had chosen life.
The couple were told by AMAC staff to return in the early afternoon to begin the abortion process, so they went home to wait. Undecided, the husband returned to the vigil site and took down the number on the sign offering help and returned home to his wife. From there, multiple texts were exchanged explaining their situation and asking what kind of assistance could be given. Finally, the decision was made that they would not go through with the abortion! The team at Family Life International are now supporting the couple in this, their greatest hour of need.
Another encouraging example of how love saves lives is the young woman who approached vigil participants near the middle of this vigil. She told the selfless prayer volunteer that last year about this time she had an appointment at AMAC. When she arrived, people were standing on the pavement just as he was and she lingered near them, listening to the prayers and speaking only briefly, never letting on that she had an appointment. “I went home that day without keeping my appointment” she explained, “my son is now three months old – thank you.”
Not to mention the countless conversations had with those who care to take the time to stop and engage and whose consciences have been prodded to face the reality of abortion and the countless other topics that are inevitably addressed.
With faith as small as a mustard seed, with selfless sacrifice, humility, love of God, and love of neighbour being our sole motivation, we will end abortion – one precious person at a time.
This year, 40 Days for Life concludes on a significant date – the 23rd anniversary of Evangelium Vitae – The Gospel of Life. Abounding with wisdom and clear teaching on the value and inviolability of human life this letter by Saint Pope John Paul II is a great treasure. In it, he reminds us
The Gospel of life is something concrete and personal, for it consists in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus. Jesus made himself known to the Apostle Thomas, and in him to every person, with the words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6)
When we fearlessly proclaim Jesus, bringing souls one by one back to him, that is when we will end abortion. Because it is Jesus, who is Love Himself, who saves lives.