April 22, 2016
couple years ago, I lived with my friend Jenna*, who often prayed outside a
local abortion facility. During her visits, she frequently saw a man who escorted
women into the facility. Although Jenna didn't initially speak with him, they eventually
found themselves standing next to each other during their respective "shifts." Upon
arrival, she would ask him how he was.
the pleasantries evolved into bigger conversations – never to do with abortion,
though. We just talked about his passion for YouTube, visiting his friends on
vacations, our jobs, etc. I even ended up learning his childhood nickname and
when his birthday was.
usually took a pause from his duties as an escort for a coffee break, so on his
birthday, I offered to go get it for him… I just wanted to get a guy coffee for
remember when I asked him, he looked kind of shell-shocked, as though he were
thinking, "Wait a minute; you're not supposed to want to do that…"
was reminded of Jenna's story by Pope Francis's recent apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia). In it, the Holy Father explains, "Love opens our
eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being"
encounter with this man illustrates the heart of the Gospel of Life. We are created
to behold all people with the gaze of Christ, loving them for their own sake. Remembering
that St. John Paul II called us to a "civilization of love and life" (EV 27),
we recognize that this gaze is meant for each and every person. Pope Francis also
reminds us that Jesus "never failed to show compassion and closeness to the
frailty of individuals" who had fallen (AL 38).
are all in need of God's mercy, and we are all called to show Christ's
compassion to others – including people with whom we disagree on life issues. Doing so does not undermine our
efforts to protect lives. Each human being has "a place in God's heart from all
eternity" (AL 168), and love for everyone is foundational to our pro-life efforts.
a homily at the Chapel of Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke about "the God of
surprises" (October 13, 2014). Following in Christ's footsteps, let us seek to
be God's people of surprises – like Jenna was for this man on his birthday.
Instead of being hostile or defensive, may our efforts to promote respect and
protection for all human life reflect "a love that constantly opens doors" (AL
*Name changed to protect privacy.
McGuire is Assistant Director of Education and Outreach for the USCCB
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. To learn more about the bishops' pro-life
activities, visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
the Bishops' Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage & Religious Liberty!