2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. January 19, 2014
Is 9:1-6; Eph 1:3-6, 15-18; Mt 18:1-5, 10
A truly throwaway culture
Pope Francis recently described abortion as a manifestation of a throwaway culture. His words made me think, “What exactly are we throwing away in abortion?” Hopefully you will instinctively reply, “Duh, children of course!!!” You may also rightly add that we are throwing away our future as well. But that is not all that is thrown away in abortion.
The Prophet Isaiah paints the hopeless picture of God’s people without a savior. They had a “yoke that burdened them,” a “pole on their shoulder” that they could not shake off, and they received the continuous beating from the “rod of their taskmasters.” How did God save His people from this bondage? God chose to save His people by becoming one of them in the person of a little child: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, upon His shoulder dominion rests.” This child savior is the Prince of Peace, whose “dominion is vast and forever peaceful.” God offers us peace in the person of the child savior born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When we reject this child, we forfeit God’s gift of peace.
That Jesus is the Prince of Peace who reconciles us with the Father and with each other is known and believed by many of the faithful. But what we sometimes ignore or fail to deeply realize is that He has chosen to identify Himself always with the least in our midst, most especially the children. The way that we treat these little ones will determine our relationship with God and our participation in His abiding peace.
Jesus gives us two possible attitudes to children in today’s Gospel that will determine if we are going to have the peace of Christ in this world or not. We can either receive the children or despise them. Jesus has so identified Himself with the little ones that we receive Jesus in receiving the children in His name: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” Our reception of these children becomes our path to peace. He warns against despising one of the little ones because “their angels in heaven always look upon the face of His heavenly Father.” All people, small or big, are so much the objects of God’s loving care that His angels stand behind them here on earth and before His own face in heaven. To despise these children is to refuse to mediate God’s loving care to them. How then could we ever despise the smallest and most vulnerable in our midst and still hope to enjoy the peace of God?
St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,” and has “destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ.” Jesus, our peace, has reconciled us with God first and then with others. This gift of adoption to God in Christ is not out of any merit on our part but it is out of “the favor of the divine will.” God does not ask us to pay Him back for this gift of divine adoption and peace but to communicate it to others by receiving them in love, especially the helpless without restrictions. We grow in this divine life and peace only when we let our faith in Jesus Christ move us to accept Him when He comes to us in the disguise of the weak and needy ones.
A recent statistics showed that since abortion was legalized in the United States over 41 years ago, there have been 157 abortions every hour in the United States. This means that close to 3 abortions take place in the United States alone every minute. By the time it takes to finish this homily, the life of close to 27-30 infants would have been thrown away. Remember that this stats is only for the United States alone. And we still have the nerves to talk about or seek peace in our hearts, our families, our communities, our country, or in the world!
We all must heed the call to receive the children, the helpless and needy in Jesus’ name, beginning with the Church herself. Receiving these children must be followed by nurturing and protecting these innocent ones in our midst. The painful thing about the priest sexual abuse crises is that in many cases the opinions of clinical psychologists, the careers and reputations of the priests involved, the financial aspects and many other factors took precedence over protecting and nurturing the children that God has blessed us with. The Gospel of life that we preach cannot be limited to only receiving the children; we all must be determined to protect and nurture them at any costs. Unless we do this faithfully, the peace of Christ will remain elusive.
In our sacramental encounter with Christ in the Eucharist today, let us hear Him tell us what we need to enjoy His peace in this constantly tumultuous world: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives Me.” God in Jesus Christ again comes to save us from woe and to share His peace with us by making Himself small, disguised under the forms of bread and wine. Let us beg of Him the grace to recognize and receive Him in the helpless children in their mother’s womb and in the society.
If after this union with the Prince of Peace, we still say such things as, “I am pro-abortion,” or “I am personally opposed to abortion but who am I to judge?” or “It is the mother’s right,” please remember that you are choosing to throw away our children, our future, and the peace that Christ has won for us by His Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!