Local Food for Thought: Deacon Walter Toot
Homily: Deacon Walter Toot
Ref: 1 Cor 12:12-30
Today we have been graced by one of St Paul’s many eloquent and moving descriptions of the body of Christ. This body is constantly growing, changing, dying, and being resurrected. Everyone in this church, this town and this country, indeed everyone on mother earth are vital and beloved parts of that body. Every human who has ever been conceived is important and has a role to fulfill. Every human who has ever been conceived is connected to each and every one of us and to God through love. Every human who has been conceived but did not survive to be birthed, is a loss to that body, and is a loss to us.
Now there are children who have been lost before birth due to natural causes that are beyond anyone’s control or ability to change. Indeed, despite many heroics and the wonders of modern medicine, some people do not get to experience this earth outside of their mother’s womb. It is one of life’s saddest mysteries that can not be explained or solved, it can only be grieved and by the grace of God, be healed.
There are also many who have been lost due to human intention. We stand in the shadow of January 22, when 37 years ago the Roe versus Wade decision was made. The United State Catholic Conference of Bishops has designated the anniversary of this as a day of prayer and penance in reparation for sins committed against human life. Many traveled to Washington to express their feelings and many responded to the invitation to gather in our Cathedral at a silent prayer vigil to pray for a greater awareness of the dignity of human life in our society today.
We live in a secular society which has a deep confidence in the power of reason, of law, of rights, and responsibilities. Our freedoms and liberties are a beacon to the world. It is that concern for freedom and the respect of individuals which was the starting point for the reasoning that led to this tragic decision. There is perhaps no greater paradox at work today.
Rights are a starting point, but not the ending point. For there is more to this than women’s rights, or men’s rights, or even children’s rights. For when a child is conceived, we are speaking about a life, an eternal bond of love that is formed between mother, father, child, and God. A child is the beginning of a unique and intensely personal bond that has never before existed in the entirety of creation.
A child is an expression of God’s love for all of humanity. Indeed, we have recently celebrated the season of Christmas where we rejoiced that God would come to earth as a baby in Jesus and change everything. A child is a sacred and holy creation that we hope will come to fruition during the earthly phase of that person’s eternal life. St Paul might call that child a part of our body which gives us hope, when we have a tangible sense for the limitless love of God.
It is a hope born from love that allows us to become the people that the Spirit is calling us to become. And while we hope, we also long for the day when we will be reunited with those lost sacred parts of the body of Christ.
But we are also aware that some of our brothers and sisters have chosen to take the path where is life is lost. So we grieve with them for their loss, we hope that the God of mercy will make God’s healing presence known to them and to us. And we pray that all lost children have found their eternal home with Jesus and with Mary, our heavenly mother.
Children of all ages, hug your mom and dad today, let them feel the presence of that bond that they and God started and that you fulfilled. If your mom or dad has passed away, then embrace them in prayer, so that both you and they will know that the bond lasts forever. Parents of all ages, hug your children today so that even when they don’t understand what you are trying to teach them, they will feel the love that is at the core of everything. If your child is with God, let your spirit mingle with theirs, and feel the love that will always be there.
We can pray as we try to embrace the Good News and the core of our Church’s tradition that teaches us life is precious, and that we should respect earthly life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Children, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us and others that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance.
When we respect life, we make it easier for others to choose life as well. When we respect life, we also respect the voice of God that is within.
And when we fail, we can come to stand at the foot of the cross. We can bring our fears and mistakes to the one who paid the ultimate price and shared the gift of his life with us and for us. Through our tears we can look up with gratitude to the forsaken man who utters these amazing and unforgettable words on our behalf, Father forgive them they know not what they do.
Deacon Walter Toot
3C Sunday 24 Jan 2010