Whenever darkness overshadows the goodness of God’s creation, it is tragic, because each day we are to be guardians of the world entrusted to us, especially on behalf of human life.
By Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
JACKSON – During the month of October we celebrate Respect for Life, a reality that we foster as Catholics and disciples of the Lord Jesus every day of the year but with greater focus this month.
At the outset of this month we celebrate the lives of two remarkable saints, Therese and Francis, and positioned deftly between them is the commemoration of the Guardian Angels. Without a doubt, Therese of Lisieux and Francis of Assisi upheld the integrity of our tradition of faith as guardians of the Gospel and guiding lights for an encounter with Jesus of Nazareth, the Lord of history.
The Guardian Angels provide a wonderful lens through which we can deepen our commitment to life and the mystery of God’s glory, everywhere present. On an occasion when Jesus was teaching he embraced the opportunity to welcome children and to reveal the ministry of guardian angels in God’s plan of salvation. “See that you do not look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
Immediately before this marvelous revelation Jesus ardently stated that “unless you become like little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (18:3) In other words, our vision will be stunted, we will be unable to see the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ, and our capacity to embrace and respect life will be diminished. Whenever darkness overshadows the goodness of God’s creation, it is tragic, because each day we are to be guardians of the world entrusted to us, especially on behalf of human life.
The church remains ardent guardians of unborn life, a commitment that can be traced to the earliest sources in our Catholic tradition. It is the fullness of understanding of the Lord’s words and gestures to embrace and welcome the little one, because in doing so we see the glory of God on the face of newborn life. In our prayer and teaching, in our advocacy and loving service we have been faithful guardians of life in the womb with the most profound respect. This is the foundation of life and it is to be set upon the rock of God’s plan, not the sand of a throwaway culture.
Upon this foundation the Catholic church throughout the world, in our nation, and in our diocese labors unceasingly for greater justice and decency across the life span and in all social contexts, again through prayer and teaching, advocacy and loving service. We embrace community, solidarity and the common good. We strive to be faithful guardians to assure that a solid structure of justice and peace sits upon a firm foundation of life.
Throughout this month we will highlight and celebrate much of what is done on behalf of life, evidence that we are members of the household of God. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
A key component of our respect for life these days is our ongoing vigilance during the pandemic. Although the dispensation for Sunday Mass is still in effect, the commandment to keep the Lord’s Day holy is never dispensed from. Whether at home or in church be faithful guardians of your faith. Know that our churches are maintaining the strict protocol of sanitizing, distancing and mask wearing. This is respect for one another’s lives. In closing, I encourage you to remain holy, vigilant, and respectful, and to be guardians of all that is sacred and precious, especially the gift of life.