The Gift of Life

October 7, 2018

October has been the designated month to celebrate Respect Life in the US Catholic Church since 1972. It is a time to proclaim God’s great gift: human life. In the Book of Genesis’ story of Adam and Eve, Adam became a living human person only after God breathed “the breath of life” into him. This breath of life is God’s own life itself. Although human, he has “divine life” within him. That is how tremendous human life is – the life of God dwells within every human person.

In the other Creation story, creation in seven days, it says human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Because God places His own divine life in each of us, our human person becomes sacred. Every human person must be honored, valued, and respected regardless of his or her earthly condition.

We believe the infusion of Divine Life begins at the first moment of conception. Outwardly, the fetus does not yet have the appearance of a human person, but divine life already exists, and continues to exist FOREVER, because it is in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, all human life is honored, respected and preserved. It is incorrect to focus on single moments of life and ignore the rest.

Our greatest example is the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the moment Mary said “yes” to the angel’s message that God wanted her to conceive and bear a son, Jesus’ humanity began. We emphasize “virgin” to reveal the divine origin of Jesus. It is a gift from God to Mary. Had Mary reasoned that she had the right to eliminate the pregnancy because it was inconvenient for her (Joseph would divorce her, her family would disown her, she would be stoned to death) Jesus would not have entered our world. From Mary’s womb, peace comes into the world.

The Church also designates October as the month of the Holy Rosary worldwide. Let’s turn to Mary in prayer so that we have her courage to embrace the gift of life.

The gift of life brings with it responsibility. Individually and collectively, it is our responsibility to care for other human persons. We must consistently speak out and act against threats to life on the behalf of the unborn, the elderly, the criminally condemned, the immigrant, and so on. The right to life is the most fundamental, integral issue of who we are as human beings.

Kathryn Richards