Garcia: Living the Gospel of Life each day
As many pro-life advocates celebrated Alabama and Georgia passing state laws to uphold the dignity of unborn life, Planned Parenthood and abortion supporters in other states across the country recently organized rallies to “fight back against abortion bans.” Nebraska was no exception.
On May 21, hundreds of politicians and activists assembled in the rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol to celebrate abortion.
In addition to those promoting so-called “abortion rights,” a small but powerful pro-life contingency held signs reading “Remember the Unborn” and some covert onlookers (like me) were there to listen, observe and silently pray.
As I looked around, amidst the loud cheers for greater access to abortion and crude signs held up by rally participants (I’ll spare you the exact messages), I thought, “This is what the culture of death looks like: noisy, unreasonable, unrelenting and obscene.”
I listened as Omaha state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh explained that when she found out she was pregnant with her third child, she exercised “(her) choice and (her) right” to keep her baby. But her message implied that she could have easily, and rightfully, chosen abortion. While many of us may hear that and be repulsed by it, we must remember that in a culture of death, abortion and euthanasia are viewed as individual rights and freedoms.
Abortion-rights advocates fight tirelessly for this “freedom,” not realizing that it’s not freedom at all, but slavery. And in our post-Christian culture, we have no moral compass or even a clear distinction of good and evil to discern this reality. Even with encouraging legislation and favorable election results federally and locally, it seems like we are losing the culture war and, more importantly, countless eternal souls. Faced with such a bleak outlook, what are we to do?
In just over a year, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s pivotal encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”). In this tremendous work, he reminds us that we must recommit ourselves not only to defending against the pervasive Culture of Death, but to building and authentically living the Gospel of Life. This means respecting, defending and promoting the dignity of every human life, in every condition of life. He explains that in a culture so far gone, what is needed is a renewal of “recapturing the ultimate meaning of life and its fundamental values.”
Of course, the source of the meaning of life and its fundamental value is Jesus himself, who tells us that he “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). If we want to transform the culture, we must first allow Jesus to transform us, to create within us a new heart and new mind.
I am so grateful that Our Lord sought me and found me, so that I may see with his eyes and love with his heart, even when it causes me to grieve and recoil amid a truly evil political demonstration like the one on May 21. But because I still find it all too common to roll my eyes at defenders of abortion or allow resentment for the state of things to grow inside me, he and I still have a lot of work to do to better engage in authentic relationships with my neighbors, especially those with whom I disagree.
God wants to work with and through each of us to bring about a renewal of this world. So, I ask all people of faith and those committed to life to join me in begging the Lord’s mercy, inviting him into our hearts and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as we ask each day, “How will I live the Gospel of Life today?”
Lauren Garcia is communications and outreach specialist for the Nebraska Catholic Conference.