February 23, 2018
the news 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?
To 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. Changing the culture is a process of conversion that
begins in our own hearts.
The knowledge and realization of how deeply we are
loved by God elicits a response of love that simultaneously draws us closer to Him
and, at the same time, impels us to share his love with others. As Christians,
our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles,
we are called to be missionary disciples. This doesn't necessarily mean
quitting our jobs or moving to foreign countries. For most of us, our mission
field is daily life.
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 think our lives
have decreased value or worth. But
God's love—personal, 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.
When someone 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 he directs.
When a woman becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend
threatens to leave if she continues the pregnancy, we need to lovingly walk
with her. When parents of young children need a break, we need to consider how
we can help and act on it. 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
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. Sometimes 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.
Let us go, therefore,
and not be afraid. God is always with us.
This issue of Life Issues Forum has been adapted and shortened
from "How to Build a Culture of Life," originally published by the
USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities in the 2017-2018 Respect Life Program: