Categories: Voices

To reverence human life

The following is adapted from Archbishop Gomez’s homily for the annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn, held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Jan. 18.

Once again this year, we gather to remember and to mourn the lives that have been lost. We offer this Eucharist tonight for all those tiny souls who were killed before they could be born. 

We pray tonight for their mothers and fathers, for all those who know the pain of abortion and are caught up in this tragedy.

Every time a child dies in the womb, something of our humanity dies as well. And over these long decades of legalized abortion, we all know we have fallen short of what is expected of us. 

Abortion is certainly an atrocity and it should be abolished; it has no place in a civilized society. But we need to admit, all of us, that we have not done enough to build the just society, the beloved community, where abortion would never be thought of. 

So, we pray tonight in sorrow and repentance. We ask for the grace and the courage to confront this injustice and to commit ourselves to the hard work of building a society that is worthy of the human person. 

Tonight, in these readings we have just heard, God speaks to us of the great mystery, the sanctity and dignity, the beauty of the human person. The prophet Isaiah says, “Now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb. … I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

These words direct our gaze to Jesus Christ, to the word of God who humbles himself to become our servant, taking human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. We serve a God who reveals himself to us as a little baby, a God who wanted to come to us from a human mother, to be born into a human family.

This reveals to us something deep, something profound about the nature of God. But it also tells us something marvelous and beautiful about ourselves, about our lives and our humanity. 

Human life is precious to the Creator! His love for us is endless and it begins long before we are even born. Our God is a Father who fashions every soul in every mother’s womb. 

We are God’s idea, every one of us! And there is the spark of the divine that is hidden in the purpose of every person. The human person is the glory of God, because there is a trace of God in even the tiniest person, even in the child who is waiting to be born. 

We have known these truths for a long time, but we need to continue to translate this knowledge into action. 

The existence of abortion tells us that we still have not created a culture of life, that we still don’t have a society or an economy that values the human person and the family as the essential foundation of society.

It is still too hard for many families to make ends meet, and too many people do not have what they need to lead a dignified life. And we all have the responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters. 

Many of you are doing heroic and beautiful work to help women, to help mothers and children. Thank you for your compassion, for your love, for the sacrifices you make for this cause of life.  

But we need to do more. We need to change this society; we need to change this culture. Let us ask for the grace to commit ourselves to continue working to protect the unborn life, and to do more to support and strengthen the family. 

Jesus forms each one of us in the womb and in baptism he calls us to follow him and to be his servants, to be a light to our nation and to build his kingdom, filling this world with his holiness and love. 

God calls us not only to respect human life, God calls us to reverence human life. He wants us to contemplate and celebrate the mystery, the divine presence, his glory in the soul of every person. 

And we need to make reverence for life, the foundation of a great movement for human rights and human dignity in our society. The way we do that is through our love, through our compassion, through our prayer and our pursuit of holiness in our own lives. 

So tonight, let us ask that his mercy be upon us, that he give us the strength to follow him in building a culture where every human life is sacred, where we can see the light of God in the eyes of every child. 

May the Blessed Virgin Mary our mother intercede for us and for our country, and may she go with us in this great movement for life. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Most Reverend José H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community. He served as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2019-2022.

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