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Life is fragile.
We like to consider ourselves strong and independent, but when it comes right down to it, we are pretty fragile. It does not take much to throw off our independence and strength. A medical setback, the process of aging, a personal loss, a severe storm, and even a broken-down car, can remind us how dependent we really are.
Our culture glamorizes strength, beauty and freedom, and provides all sorts of temporary fixes for the realities of our humanness. We can join a health club, dye our hair, eat organic food and drive an all-terrain vehicle, but eventually our fragility catches up with us. Perhaps we should just recognize the fact that being fragile is a part of life. God certainly recognizes it. God even cherishes and celebrates it. In fact, he values our human fragility so much that he chose to embrace it personally in order to save us.
Consider the Creator of the universe, humbling himself to the point of becoming the weakest of persons: the human embryo of an unwed mother, the unborn child on a dangerous journey, the newborn infant surrounded by smelly animals and outcasts, the migrant child fleeing the violence of a murderous king. God certainly understands and embraces our fragility. By his own personal witness, he even shows us that fragility is beautiful. Recognizing our fragility helps us to remember and love those who are weak and defenseless.
At this holy time of year, when we contemplate artfully composed manger scenes and attractive Christmas cards, let us remember the message in God's personal witness: there is profound beauty in all human life, even the most vulnerable. Even when people are small, weak, defenseless, dependent, demanding or disgusting by worldly standards, God sees beauty. So should we see this beauty in ourselves and in others.
Pope Francis recently captured this when he reflected: "Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God's creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect." This message is captured in a moving one-minute video entitled "Open Your Hearts to Life," which can also be found on the USCCB YouTube channel.
Life is truly fragile.
Life is incredibly beautiful.
May we remember God's deep and profound love for us and cling fast to Him. May we find the strength and encouragement in this great season of joy to assist and protect all those who are especially fragile. And may our witness to their beauty inspire others to see it too.
Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
Join the Bishops' Call to Prayer and Fasting for Life, Marriage & Religious Liberty. Visit www.usccb.org/pray or text "FAST" to 99000. Join the Movement!
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