Monday, January 22, 2018

(see below for a reflection on the readings of the day)

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Last Monday the United States celebrated a significant social achievement.  In honoring Dr. Luther King, Jr., the nation recalled with pride its revocation of unjust laws that rendered African-Americans inferior.  Social equality among the races in this land is not perfect, but denying that great progress has been made toward that goal is the rhetoric of fools or of revolutionaries.

As advancements in racial equality were being made, the United States slipped into another kind of moral pitfall. Forty-five years ago today its Supreme Court struck down virtually all laws prohibiting abortion.  The decision has led to the wanton taking of human life at its most defenseless stage – over sixty million human beings!  It has also accelerated sexual promiscuity as most abortions involve unmarried women.  Why else would men and women conspire to allow such a horrific amount of killing if not to assure sexual libertinism?

Since its beginnings, the Church has opposed abortion.  But only in more recent years has it commented on abortion at length.  St. John Paul II was especially articulate in describing the evil.  Our former pope saw the right to life as basic to all other rights.  He said that when a society allows the taking of life at any stage it denies equal protection before the law.  This, of course, is what the African-American quest for racial equality sought.  That project has not yet been completed, but it has even farther to go now than fifty years ago.  Legalized abortion has statistically jeopardized the lives of African-American babies more than of others.

Today we pray for an end to the tragedy of abortion.  We ask God to open the eyes of all to its evil.  We also might resolve to support the right-to-life cause politically, financially, and morally.  It too has extremists with whom we may not wish to associate.  But it also has, in far greater numbers, sainted men and women to whom we owe our allegiance.

Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

(II Samuel 5:1-7.10; Mark 3:22-30)

Last month President Donald Trump announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  The declaration caused much criticism since rights over Jerusalem are contested by Israelis and Palestinians.  The beginnings of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city are found in today’s first reading.

Israel was never a well united nation.  Before David the various tribes claimed different parts of the land.  The united kingdom did not outlive the reign of David’s son Solomon.  But for almost seventy years the southern and northern tribes thrived under these monarchs.  The reading indicates David’s capital from Hebron to Jerusalem corresponded to the unification of the nation.  Jerusalem is farther north and thus closer to the lands of the northern tribes.

We should see Jerusalem as a symbol as much among peoples of different religions as among Jews.  Palestinians with its Muslim majority sees the city as its center.  They still have hopes, as did the United Nations at the time of Israel’s founding, of making Jerusalem an international city.  The United States’ recent recognition of Jerusalem may have been just accepting the de facto reality.  But still the goal, which certainly is our prayer today, is that the city – whose very name is associated with shalom or peace – may become a place where Jews, Muslims, and Christians live peacefully together.