Today we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. In the first reading from the book of Genesis and our gospel we hear about the creation of man and woman and the union God designs for them. Throughout the Scriptures we see that God creates and sustains life. Through Jesus we each receive the call to create and sustain life.
Pope Francis has been an authentic witness to the life and good news Jesus brought to the world. When Pope Francis visited the United States a few years ago, some thought he should stick to religion and stay out of politics. However, life crosses over into various areas and our Pope showed that caring for life – immigrants, refugees and the life of this planet, is all of our responsibilities. He also highlighted the subject of protecting religious liberty, something that demonstrates the dignity of every person, as it has been under attack in recent times.
People, old and young, seem to be very drawn to Pope Francis, and perhaps it’s because he is authentic — he practices what he preaches. His tolerance and outreach was shown when he washed the feet of Muslims, baptized the baby of a couple not married in the Catholic Church and had showers installed at the Vatican for the homeless to use.
Respect Life Sunday begins with you and I respecting life – walking the talk – and following the lead of our Holy Father. Perhaps we can’t welcome the homeless with showers, but we can treat them with dignity. We may not wash the feet of Muslims, but we can temper our judgments and attempt to understand those different then us. We may not baptize others but do we extend welcome to those on the fringes.
Last Thursday, October 4, was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi who had great respect for all God created – all life. On this Respect Life Sunday let our attitude of life expand. Certainly let us work to protect life from conception to natural death. Let us also show respect to those around us by our fair treatment, by working for justice and by reaching out to the needy. May our choices for life be a reflection of our God, who “came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Peace.