Homily of Most Reverend Edward J. Burns, Bishop of Dallas

7:30 a.m., Friday, January 19, 2018

Closing Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.

Again,good morning, everyone. And it is a joy to be with my brother priests, my brother deacons, brother seminarians, women and men in concentrated life and with all of you. And also those of you who are joining us by EWTN and by the radio, we are one body.

What a joy and a privilege it is for me to be in the presence of disciples of life and disciples for life. It is an honor for me to be here to celebrate this mass with you, the conclusion of the vigil for life. And for those of you who are either listening by radio or watching on TV and can't see such the wonderful crowd that is here at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, we have before us a very tired and weary crowd, too. But dedicated and committed to the gospel of life.

There's a story that I'm sure many of you have heard about a little boy named Billy who was just looking on the internet and all of a sudden a pop-up ad comes for a baseball glove. And it was a Rawlings Premium Series glove on sale for $74.99. And he wanted it so bad. He looked at that glove. He said knowing that baseball season is coming up, I want that glove. I want that glove. And he's thinking about this glove. But it's $74.95 I don't have. I just don't have it. But I want that glove. Well, he's thinking about that glove and it's keeping him up a little bit at night.

He then comes up with this idea that what he's going to do is he's going to start charging for some of the things that he does around the house. So sure enough, the next day he sat down, he had his pen, he had his paper, and he starts writing, dear mom, for cleaning my room, $10. For doing the dishes and the pots and pans, $15. For cutting the grass and cleaning the yard, $25. For doing my homework, $5. For walking the dog twice a day, $10. For watching my little sister, $9.99. Total, $74.99. Signed Billy. So he folds it up, he puts it so in an envelope and he puts that envelope right there where his mom sits at the dining room table and he knows she's going to get it. So one day goes by, another day goes by. But it was on the third day that he was running down the steps and he went running down the dining room and out of the corner of his eye, he sees this box sitting at his place at the dining room table. So he goes over to this box and he opens it up and he sees this glorious baseball glove, Rawlings Premium Series. He's all excited. He slips his hands in it. He starts punching his fist into this glove. He starts working on it to make it a little more pliable. He was absolutely admiring this glove. He can't believe it. This is like a dream come true. So as he's admiring this glove, he noticed then there's a note that accompanies it. So he opens up the note and as he opens up the note, he recognizes his mom's handwriting and he just loves his mom's handwriting. And he begins to read.

Dear Billy, for giving you life, no charge. For changing your diapers and keeping you dry, no charge. For tucking you in, no charge. For wiping your eyes and drying your tears, no charge. For the holding you tight when you were scared, no charge. For bandaging your wounds and taking care of your scrapes, no charge. For giving you a home and providing you with warmth, no charge. For giving you everything I can possibly give, no charge. Love, Mom.

My friends, that's sacrificial love. And it's the type of love that moms have for their children. It's the sacrificial love that God has for us, his children. His sons and daughters. And God demonstrates that love for us time and time again. And he calls us to demonstrate that sacrificial love for others. It is sacrificial love that we want to see in every mother, father, every husband and wife, every family, and in every society.

The Lord Jesus Christ is an example of sacrificial love. And as his faithful disciples, we observe his expressions of love, healing, and how he touched the weakest, the poorest, and the most vulnerable. We listen to his words and how he has called us to proclaim the gift of life and the fullness of life.

My friends, we are here today because of the unspeakable crimes against the unborn. The most innocent and defenseless. We have come to follow him because we recognize he is the way, the truth and the life. And when questioned if we were sure that we would want to follow him or if we would want to leave, then we have the opportunity to echo the words of St. Peter who said, "But, Lord, to whom shall we go? Because you have the words of everlasting life."

It was in 2015 that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, came to the United States on his pastoral visit, came to this very basilica and to this very campus, that he came to this, our nation's Capitol, and addressed a Joint Session of Congress in the chambers of the House of Representatives. It was there that he gestured to the central figure, the Marshall relief on the walls of the Chambers of representatives. That industrial figure, Moses. Moses who serves as an example for all lawmakers throughout time and for lawmakers within this country. Moses, the supreme law giver because we recognize laws come from God, the giver of the commandments. And it's in those commandments that in following them, that we might have life and that we may live in peace and in justice.

In the book of Deuteronomy, speaking of the commandments, it reads, "See, I have set before you this day life and good. Death and evil. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your descendants may live." My friends, the choosing of life comes from a sacrificial love. We pray that every mother and father, every family and society would choose life so that all may live. We are here to bring attention to the sins against human life and the dignity of human life. And when those sins occur against the sacredness of life, then the blood of innocents cries out to God for justice.

Sins of life...St. John Paul II said it's an unspeakable crime. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless. My friends, on behalf of the bishops of the United States, I say to you, stay strong, stay dedicated and committed to the gospel of life. We cannot grow complacent. We cannot be silent, for we are called by our God to be a voice for the voiceless. We cannot become lukewarm when it comes to standing for life. As our universal shepherd did in 2015, so, too, we do today. When Pope Francis visited the Capitol Building, he reminded our legislators of the sacredness of every human life. So as we visit this nation's capital, it is now our part to remind our legislators that everything we have comes from the hand of God and that they are entrusted with the responsibility to enact laws that uphold the dignity and sacredness of every human life born and unborn. Laws that are not selfish, but speak of the sacrificial love that we have for the voiceless, the innocent and the defenseless. In today's Gospel, we read, Jesus, after showing them his hands and his side, he said to them, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

As the disciples looked upon the wounds of Jesus Christ, so, too, do we look upon the wounds of this country. And this is the day in which we, too, are sent like the disciples, filled with the Gospel of life, committed to proclaim it. This is the day that we are sent. And for the grace and the strength to lively witness the love for God's human life, we turn to the Eucharist, the ultimate sign of sacrificial love and we pray that God who has begun this good work in us may bring it to fulfillment.