Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 24:3-21; Mark 3:13-19)

The bishops of the United States have designated today as a day of penance for violations to human dignity. Of course, they have in mind the infamous decision of the Supreme Court, made on this date in 1973, to effectively disallow all laws banning abortion. The bishops also permit the Scriptures from the Mass “for Peace and Justice” to be read, but today’s first reading provides a fitting context for appreciating the somberness of this memorial.

A jealous King Saul has been pursuing David with the intention of killing him. For a moment, however, David is given the upper hand. As Saul enters alone the cave where he is hiding, David could murder him and assume leadership over Israel. But loyalty to the king deters David from regicide. At the end of the day Saul comes to realize David’s innocence and blesses him for it. However, in short time Saul will once again pursue his deadly intention.

We may see the Supreme Court’s abortion decision as being like Saul’s pursuit of David. Its sweeping scope has meant the deaths of tens of millions of fetuses in the United States. Every once and a while, however, the nation recognizes its folly. Like Saul acknowledging David’s innocence in today’s reading, the people make the insight that a fetus is not extraneous tissue, which might be eliminated at will, but a real human being whose right-to-life is inalienable. Yet consumed by the desire to somehow upend the inequality women have suffered at the hands of men, the state keeps in place the comprehensive ban on laws protecting the fetus. In time, we hope, our society will come fully to its senses. It will admit that injustice may not be undone BY further injustice, ban abortions, and address the inequality of women in suitable ways.