We hear so much today about being faithful citizens, but what does this really mean to you? Does it mean that if you vote when election year rolls around you are a faithful citizen? Even though this is considered very important and a moral obligation, being a faithful citizen demands much more of us.
Being a faithful citizen means living “The Gospel of Life,” which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our daily living should reflect that we are cognizant of why we were made – to know, love and serve him on this earth and to be happy with him forever in heaven. Once we recognize this truth, we will want to emulate Jesus in loving and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ. In what way can we accomplish this? Studying Pope John Paul’s encyclical “The Gospel of Life” (Evangelium Vitae) is an excellent beginning.
Pope John Paul II stresses the sanctity of all human life and that we must protect and defend life from conception until natural death. Rejection of human life is in reality a rejection of Christ. We protect and defend life in various ways including, but not limited to, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, giving shelter to the homeless. Even while these efforts are most commendable and something all of us are called to do, we must understand there is another group of the poor that many ignore. They are the unborn children who are being led to the slaughter by abortion, reminding us of the Holy Innocents who were slaughtered by King Herod in his pursuit to kill baby Jesus. These unborn babies have been described, most notably by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as the ‘poorest of the poor’, precisely because they have no voice. These precious babies, made in the image and likeness of God, cannot help themselves. They cannot even pray nor can they change their situation as others can. In fact, they are totally dependant upon us to be their advocates.
Many in our society today, and even many in our Catholic Church, believe our resources should go only to care for those persons that are seen and forget about those that are unseen and small. Because a person is small and unseen does not make him less valuable. Imagine if we felt this way about the Eucharist! Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and when our priest breaks the host into smaller pieces, Christ is still present in each and every particle, as He is in each and every one of us, seen and unseen. He wants us to be Christ to one another including the most defenseless in our society – the unborn, the elderly, and the disabled – “those who have no voice”. God calls us to be good stewards of all creation, and even though we believe in a consistent ethic of life, not all issues are equal. Without life, other issues are not relevant!
Being a faithful citizen simply means that we put God first, before our political party; living “The Gospel of Life”; and taking our faith into the voting booth to vote for those candidates who will protect and defend all life – born and unborn.
Maureen Stansell is a member of the Archdiocesan Respect Life Committee and the chairwoman of the St. Andrew by the Bay, Annapolis, Respect Life Committee.