Watching thenews and reading the headlines, we may feel helpless seeing the heartbreaking
lack of respect for human life. How do we respond when our efforts seem small
in the face of the culture of death?
Our Christian Identity
understand more fully how to defend and protect human life, we must first
consider who we are, at the deepest
level. God creates us in his image and likeness, which means we are made to be
in loving relationship with him. The essence of our identity and worth, the
source of our dignity, is that we are loved by God: "We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum
of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his
We are called
to divine intimacy, true communion with God, and we can grow in this closeness
with him through daily prayer, reading the Scriptures, and frequent
participation in the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.
Our Mission as Christians
knowledge and realization of how deeply we are loved by God elicits a response
of love that simultaneously draws us closer to God and, at the same time,
impels us to share his love with others.
relationship with God means following in his footsteps, wherever he may call.
Just as Jesus invited St. Peter and St. Andrew to become his disciples, he
invites us to do the same: "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men"
disciple of Jesus naturally includes sharing the Gospel with others and
inviting them into a deeper relationship with God. As Christians, our identity
and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are
called to be missionary disciples.
necessarily mean quitting our jobs or moving to foreign countries. For most of
us, our mission field is daily life: "Christ teaches us how to evangelize, how
to invite people into communion with him, and how to create a culture of
witness: namely, through love. A Christian life lived with charity and faith is
the most effective form of evangelization."
step towards living this life is allowing Jesus to meet and transform us daily.
If we respond to his grace, our lives will show we have something beyond what
the world offers: we follow a person whose love changes our lives, so we want
others to also experience his transforming love.
When we live
in union with God, open to his prompting, we're more able to see the
opportunities for witness and his guidance in responding to these
opportunities. We may fear doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing, but
we do not need to be afraid. Jesus promised his disciples, "I am with you
always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
As a society
and as individuals, we often measure ourselves by false standards: by what and
how much we do, our successes or failures, how others treat us, the degree of
our pleasure or independence, etc. And when these changeable substitutes prove
to be insufficient, or when we are faced with challenges and suffering, we may
feel helpless, alone, or abandoned; we may be tempted to feel as though our
lives have decreased value or worth.
love—individual, real, unchanging—is the true source of our worth, identity,
and dignity. It really is not a question of who we are, but rather whose we are. Because his love will
never change, nothing can reduce our God-given dignity, and nothing can
diminish the immeasurable worth of our lives.
is facing great trials, we need to meet them where they are, walk with them on
their journey, intercede for them, and be open to sharing Christ's love however
When a woman
becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend threatens to leave if she continues the
pregnancy, we need to lovingly walk with her. When family members or friends
become seriously ill, we need to assure them that God still offers them
something in this life, and they still have purpose. We need to consistently be
with them every step of the way.
our actions speak for themselves; other times, words are needed. Whatever the
situation, Jesus knows how to speak to each person's heart; we simply need to
follow where he leads.
A Culture of Life
This is how
we answer our missionary call. This is how we build a culture of life, a
culture that joyfully proclaims the truth of God's love, purpose, and plan for
each person. Changing the culture is a process of conversion that begins in our
own hearts and includes a willingness to be instructed and a desire to be close
to Jesus—the source of joy and love.
encounter Christ, experience his love, and deepen our relationship with him, we
become more aware of our own worth and that of others. His love for each person
is cause for great joy, and growing understanding of this priceless treasure
motivates us to share his love with others. Our lives are often changed by the
witness of others; so too, others' lives may be changed by our witness and
authentic friendship with them.
Let us go,
therefore, and not be afraid. God is always with us.
 John Paul II, Homily, 17th World Youth Day, Downsview Park,
Toronto, July 28, 2002.
 USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Disciples Called to Witness: The New
Evangelization. Copyright © 2012, United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.
"Homily of the Holy Father John Paul II" ©
2002, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. All
rights reserved. Copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.