Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Attitude towards Evil
In last weekend’s homily I talked about the row happening in the Texas State House as pro-abortion and pro-life groups clash over the proposed sweeping legislation that would outlaw all abortion after 20 weeks in Texas and that abortion clinics be held to the same standards that all other medical facilities are held to in Texas. This would close all but 5 abortion clinics in Texas as the majority, though they claim to be about women’s health, do not bother to raise themselves to standard health practices that all other medical facilities must carry. This is telling, but I digress. In the midst of the protest from the pro-abortion side, very ugly and evil things have been said. From praising Satan to saying awful things about he Church to thuggish outbursts of wrath, the other side is not exactly doing themselves any favors in the PR department. But the images of the anger, the audio of the chants being said, and the rabid ’abortion on demand and without apology’ attitude are off-putting because they are deeply disturbing and thoroughly evil. This is about the wanting to slaughter infants in the womb; they mask their intent by wrapping it up in the euphemism ‘pro-choice’, but the choice in question is abortion.
Abortion is evil. There is no way around this. It is perpetrated by groups who prey on scared women who under ordinary circumstances would not make such decisions. It requires a dehumanization of the child in the womb. This is very dangerous territory. The dehumanization of a group is first and foremost necessary in the extinction of that group. Slave owners had to dehumanize the black man and woman so as to justify their owning them as if they were livestock; to justify their buying and selling of human beings. Nazi Germany had to justify their mass slaughter of Jews, handicapped, homosexuals, mentally challenged, and such by dehumanizing these groups. It is unsettling to admit, from a purely non-emotional viewpoint, it is what has been done with the pre-born in this country and around the world. Its wanton use is an extension of the eugenics beliefs that were the foundation of Nazi Germany and of Planned Parenthood foundress Margaret Sanger. Anyone who has read her writings knows that she was a eugenicist and wished the extermination of ‘human weeds’ through birth control and sterilization. This is just a matter of historical fact.
I will wager that most who are pro-choice do not understand this. I like to believe in the basic fairness and goodness of people and count that when the veil has been drawn that is hiding evil for what it is, they will recoil in horror and switch sides. I do believe the more we recognize the humanity of the child in the womb and see that life as a precious gift, the better off we will be as a person and as a society. I believe this about those who have had a abortion as well. Abortion is psychologically a trauma inducing event. There are wonderful programs like “Rachel’s Vineyard’ that are specifically designed to help those who have suffered an abortion to receive the help necessary to properly grieve and heal. It is highly unwise and against our faith to condemn those who have had an abortion without reaching out to help and heal. As Catholics, our first option is always mercy and compassion. It is not condemnation and shunning! Why? Because were God interested in condemnation and shunning, He would never have sent His Son. He does, however, and that needs to sink into our hearts, minds, and souls.
The bigger question is what do we do with the rabid evil doer. What we do with the hate filled and unrepentant? Certainly this circus in Austin, Texas has shown us the wrathful face of such people. I have had suggested to me that Scripture tells us to write them off and shake the dust from our feet in witness against them. Those who reject Christ do so at their own peril. Those who reject God’s love choose a path of eternal desolation, isolation, and sadness that will eternally inflict them with the same agony of fire. When I see the faces of those screaming obscenities, praising darkness and evil, encouraging selfishness and narcissism, it does not enrage me to seek and rejoice in their condemnation; it leads me to mourn what they are doing to themselves, mourn for the path they are choosing, and pray for their conversion. It leads me to extend the same attitude that Christ first showed me in my own sinfulness and selfishness. In all humility, my mortal sins accomplish the same end as those whom I am seeing in Texas State House. Mortal sin is mortal sin. If I wish God to have mercy on me, then, as Scripture repeatedly reminds us, my attitude towards others MUST be one of mercy as well. The Gospel never tells us to gloat over the downfall of those who oppose Christ. Each person who chooses that downfall of their own free will was not created for that downfall.
Our attitude is to be of mercy to all. Sometimes we can act as if condemnation of peoples somehow will make things better. It doesn’t. Do we condemn actions? Absolutely! Do we condemn people? Absolutely not! That belongs to God alone. For our part, we are to pray for and extend mercy towards those who are filled with hate towards us. It is the only way the Gospel has been spread. St. Paul went into hostile territory many times over. St. Peter did as well. So did St. Patrick…and St Boniface…and SS. Cyril and Methodius…and St Isaac Jocques…St Thomas More…St Francis Xavier…and this list could go on and on. Mercy and evangelization are not a one and done kind of thing! As long as others are drawing breath, the possibility for embracing Christ is possible. We cannot sit idly by or even self-righteously by and take comfort in another’s condemnation.
It goes to a primary disposition of how we view others. All are sinners in God’s eyes, St. Paul reminds us, but He still loves each and every one if us nonetheless. While He will allow to abide by our decisions for or against Him, He will always call us back as long as we live and breathe. If this is His attitude to those who would call themselves His enemies, can our attitude be any less? No Catholic should rejoice in or even need people in hell! There will be and that is so very sad. We do not get to set the guest list for hell. We must always give witness to and example of the Gospel. We must never write anyone off as beyond redemption or salvation…ever! For as long as they are here, the opportunity exist. Thus we have a duty to reach out. When a person is drowning, we do what we can to reach out to save them; we don’t take glee in their mistake, we don’t sit in condemnation, we don’t ignore them. When I see the faces of those deformed by their own hate and selfishness, I do not see something to ignore or despise…quite the opposite! I see someone to pray for and extend a loving mercy to- not in some smarmy self-righteous condescending way, but as one who actively wants their good…even if they don’t currently want it for themselves.