An attitude of care for our neighbour is essential in these days when the culture of death has a firm hold on society. By reaching out to those in need we live out our faith in a concrete manner, shining light in the darkness.
It is often said by pro-abortion agitators that those who oppose abortion only care about the baby before it is born. We know this is not true. Many people active in pro-life ministry serve people in various situations and life circumstances right up until the end of life.
However, the claim should give us pause for thought. Do we see every person that we meet as our neighbour? Are we willing to serve people in their greatest hour of need?
Each of us are called to serve life in some way. It can (and should) be as simple as serving those closest to you – your family and friends – widening your reach as opportunities, and your own circumstances allow.
There is a particular urgency to serve people at both the very beginning and end of life, as increasingly society does not value their protection.
In his encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae, Saint John Paul II expresses the importance of consistent personal witness, serving life from its natural beginning to its natural end.
“By virtue of our sharing in Christ’s royal mission, our support and promotion of human life must be accomplished through the service of charity, which finds expression in personal witness, various forms of volunteer work, social activity and political commitment. This is a particularly pressing need at the present time, when the “culture of death” so forcefully opposes the “culture of life” and often seems to have the upper hand. But even before that it is a need which springs from “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). As the Letter of James admonishes us: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (2:14-17).
In our service of charity, we must be inspired and distinguished by a specific attitude: we must care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to become neighbours to everyone (cf. Lk 10:29-37), and to show special favour to those who are poorest, most alone and most in need. In helping the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigner, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned-as well as the child in the womb and the old person who is suffering or near death-we have the opportunity to serve Jesus. He himself said: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Hence we cannot but feel called to account and judged by the ever relevant words of Saint John Chrysostom: “Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not neglect it when you find it naked. Do not do it homage here in the church with silk fabrics only to neglect it outside where it suffers cold and nakedness”.113
Where life is involved, the service of charity must be profoundly consistent. It cannot tolerate bias and discrimination, for human life is sacred and inviolable at every stage and in every situation; it is an indivisible good. We need then to “show care” for all life and for the life of everyone. Indeed, at an even deeper level, we need to go to the very roots of life and love.
It is this deep love for every man and woman which has given rise down the centuries to an outstanding history of charity, a history which has brought into being in the Church and society many forms of service to life which evoke admiration from all unbiased observers. Every Christian community, with a renewed sense of responsibility, must continue to write this history through various kinds of pastoral and social activity. To this end, appropriate and effective programmes of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world and to raise it. Similar care must be shown for the life of the marginalized or suffering, especially in its final phases.”
Evangelium Vitae #87
Take time to visit an elderly neighbour or relative. This is especially important if they do not have many family or friends. Consider volunteering at a local rest home, or hospice, being a friend to those who may be feeling particularly lonely.
Prayer for Respect for all Human Life
Heavenly Father, your cosmic gaze focused on dust and you fashioned in your image and likeness every man and women:
give us, we beg you, a keen eye to recognize that image so that respect for all human life becomes our way of life.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.