In a few short days, we will celebrate the beginning of the New Year. For many this brings a sense of renewal, joy and anticipation. For others the New Year seems to only solidify the current problems and exasperate the struggles. For still others, it’s just another passing moment, another day and another year.
As pro-life advocates reflecting upon the events of 2012, we too may have a sense of dismay. There have been some positive accomplishments over the year, like the adoption of Hungary’s Easter Constitution one year ago, as well as several state-level pro-life victories here in the United States. But we have also seen countries like Uruguay and the Philippines, once strongholds of pro-life and pro-family values, succumb to the death peddlers by adopting anti-life legislation. We have witnessed deliberate assaults upon freedom of religion and conscience by governments. We have witnessed the continued promotion of contraception and abortion under the guise of “health care” and sexual “rights.” We have seen the promotion of euthanasia, with its proponents masking it as an exercise of mercy and compassion. Economic problems abound as cultures embrace the contraceptive mentality and realize that their lavish public benefits are unsustainable without a growing population.
To top it off, this January 22 will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the bloodiest decisions made by any single court in our nation’s history, leading to the murder of nearly 55 million pre-born children.
It is not easy to look back. We don’t want to remember because it reminds us too much of our shortcomings and struggles. In this season of Christmas, however, we are reminded of the most precious gift of love given to the world. Every year we are presented with the image of God becoming man — indeed, becoming a little child — so that we might learn to love Him who is Love. He permits Himself in humility to become the Way for us to learn how to love God and our neighbor. This frightens many because such a gift requires a response.
This benevolent gift also poses a few poignant questions: Do we have room for Him or will we make room for Him in our lives? What about those around us, our neighbors? Are we too busy, self-absorbed or preoccupied with worldly affairs to notice them? The humble babe of Christmas is knocking upon the doors of our hearts. Will we answer or will we ignore Him?
We are faced with many challenges this New Year, and we cannot hide from them. As we prepare to begin the year and face its abundant challenges, I suggest we reflect upon Pope Benedict XVI’s second encyclical, Spe Salvi. This wondrous document is of great importance as we consider the struggles confronting us. The Holy Father is assisting us with the navigation of these turbulent waters, revealing to us the One in whom we can authentically place our hope.
In paragraph 33, Pope Benedict references Saint Augustine, who reminds us that man is made for greatness, though “his heart is too small. It must be stretched.” He then quotes Augustine: “Suppose that God wishes to fill you with honey [a symbol of God’s tenderness and goodness]; but if you are full of vinegar, where will you put the honey?”
If true peace, joy and love are sought, then hearts must move from smallness to greatness. Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind and to help us to see the One in whom our hope is placed. Hope will remain shallow and insignificant as long as it is anchored in worldly definitions and desires. True hope, the hope that Jesus restores to humanity, leads to fullness and life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The impact of Human Life International’s work is not contingent upon the efforts of one individual, but rather upon each and every person who becomes an active participant in our mission. Each contributes in his or her own way. I am personally asking you who have been loyal supporters of this mission for life to be an ambassador for HLI . You can do this by praying daily for our mission, by talking with others about HLI’s work and by personally inviting others to become involved in spreading the Gospel of Life. We have an arduous task in front of us and if we are going to reach our brothers and sisters then we need as many ambassadors as we can muster. We need to stretch people’s minds to understand the importance of confronting the culture of death, as well as to move them from indifference to active participation in building a culture of life.
When we join together and are united in our efforts we create a mighty force of hope that will truly make a difference in the world.