In the Church, we are always working to fulfill God’s beautiful plan of love for creation and for every human life. In our times, that means we are working to build a great force for life and love in our world.
OneLife LA expresses the beautiful Gospel vision of a culture of life and love.
We held our second annual OneLife LA procession and family festival at Grand Park this past Saturday, Jan. 23. It was a day of grace and peace for me to see so many of you — more than 20,000 from across Los Angeles and Southern California. So many families and so many young people, so much joy and enthusiasm.
We followed OneLife LA with a beautiful celebration of our annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn. Because, in our vision, all life is precious — from conception to natural death. And in my ministry this week, I have been praying and reflecting a lot on this truth.
On Friday morning before OneLife LA, I blessed a new chapel at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. On Sunday, Jan. 24, I celebrated Mass and shared time with the young men at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar. And just this morning, Jan. 26, before finishing this column, I prayed with and helped serve lunch to the homeless men at our Cardinal Manning Center, which is run by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In all of these places, I was struck by the force of the Gospel of life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Not our health or wealth or our “status” in society. Every life is precious and every life is sacred — the child in a mother’s womb, the person who has disabilities, the one who is old or sick; the homeless, the prisoner, the immigrant and refugee.
The future is with life! And life is the way of the Church.
Our vision is spiritual not political. The cause of life is greater than the limitations of our political distinctions, like “pro-life” and “social justice,” liberal or conservative.
In the face of the suffering and human need in the world, we cannot compartmentalize our compassion or draw lines between those we will care about and those we will not.
God is our Father and he sees only his children. And when one of God’s children is suffering or in danger, he calls the rest of us to love and compassion.
In the Scriptures, God shows us that his priorities are always with those in society who are most defenseless — the widow, the orphan, the stranger. That is why the Church has spoken up for the child in the womb since the early days of the Roman Empire.
That is why today, the Church continues to see abortion and euthanasia as grave evils and the most fundamental injustice in our society. If a child has no right to be born, if an elderly person has no right to be cared for with compassion, no one’s rights are secure in our society.
God is calling us to complete his great plan of love, his great plan for creation. God is calling us to reach out in love to the woman who is pregnant and who is feeling lost and alone. To the refugee and the immigrant; to the prisoner, the homeless, the sick and the disabled. To the elderly and those who are suffering and crying for help.
Wherever dignity is denied, wherever there is injustice, we are called to defend life. As Catholics, we have a duty to welcome, protect and to care for life — every life.
That is why I was pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the issues of deportation and immigration reform in the case of United States v. Texas.
I know many good people disagree about immigration reform — and especially about how our country should respond to the 11 million undocumented persons living in our communities.
For me, it comes down to a question of justice and defending human life, the family and innocent children. As a pastor I see every day the rising human toll of our failed immigration policies, especially on families and children.
The common good can never be served by deporting some little girl’s dad or mom. A just and compassionate society must not allow this.
People do not cease to be our brothers and sisters because they have an irregular immigration status. No matter how they got here, no matter how frustrated we are with our government, we cannot lose sight of their humanity — without losing our own.
So this week, let’s pray for the great cause of life in our times.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary — who is the mother of all of us — to help us to see the beauty of human life, the sanctity of the human person and the mystery of the love of God.