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Say 'yes' to God, 'yes' to life

It's only way to overcome world's evils, archbishop says at Mass for nascent human life

Homily preached by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the Mass for nascent human life celebrated March 24 at St. Mary Cathedral, as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign being held for the first time this year in the Archdiocese of Miami.

“The time has come,” Jesus says in the Gospel reading this evening, “for the Son of Man to be glorified.” The glory of Jesus will be revealed on the Cross as he offers himself to the Father for us. Our celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection is fast approaching. But even as we draw near to the annual celebration of Easter, the Church in her liturgical calendar also reminds us during this month of March of his Incarnation, his drawing close to us in a most marvelous way. In the first reading, Jeremiah proclaims: “The days are coming, say the Lord…” When the Word became Flesh in the virginal womb of Mary, Jeremiah’s prophecy begins to be fulfilled.

This year, because the 25th of March, exactly nine months before Christmas, falls on a Sunday of Lent, the solemnity of the Annunciation is celebrated on Monday. And, it is in view of this feast of the Annunciation, when Mary said “yes” to life, that this evening we celebrate this Mass for all nascent human life. Jesus’ yes to the Father on Calvary was preceded by Mary’s own yes in her humble home in Nazareth. “Be it done unto me according to your word.”

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'Today, our culture needs to be “retrofitted” lest further moral earthquakes cause its complete collapse – for unless they are grounded in the truth about the human person, our social institutions – from the most basic, marriage and family, to the complex modern state – will lack enduring stability.' -- Archbishop Thomas Wenski
These “yeses” overcome the evil of the world. These “yeses” reverse the “nos” voiced by our first parents, Adam and Eve, which unleashed the power of evil, the power of death into our world. Jesus, while remaining truly God, shares in our human condition – in all things but sin. And though sinless, he became as sin so as to deliver us from sin.

“Unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.” The mystery of evil is overcome in the mystery of the Cross. On Easter we will celebrate his victory over sin, death, and the devil: our participation in the Easter sacraments allows us to share in his victory. But, to participate fruitfully in this Easter joy, we must make our own the yeses of Mary and Jesus: We too must say “yes” to life.

To worthily celebrate the Easter Mysteries, we must strive to grow in personal holiness. But this holiness should not isolate us from the world in which we live. As Christians we are called to be yeast in the world – a leaven that transforms the world through our active engagement.

And today, I wish to commend all those who participated in the 40 Days for Life. Here in the archdiocese and throughout the United States, pro-life people stood in the front of abortion mills praying: to change minds and hearts, to save babies from abortions. I thank you and all of you who are involved in the Respect Life Apostolate of our local Church here in the Archdiocese of Miami. I thank you for what you do for life, for all you do to promote respect for life from the first moment of conception until natural death.

Your work in the Respect Life Apostolate is more important than ever. The contraceptive mentality has eroded the foundations of our contemporary American family – by weakening marriage and destroying the mutual trust between men and women which is the necessary cement that holds together any committed relationship. The contraceptive mentality continues to undermine the foundations of our nation’s constitution, built on the proposition that “All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” The recent HHS mandate by the Obama Administration that places our religious freedoms, guaranteed under the First Amendment, under great stress is just the latest example of the culture of death that is emerging in our nation: a culture which sees human fertility as a disease and pregnancy as a pathology.

Legalized abortion has coarsened our regard for human life in all its stages – as utilitarian criteria are more increasingly used to grant “value” or to decree no “value” to human beings, the slippery slope that pro-life leaders warned against in 1973 has arrived. Euthanasia, so-called therapeutic embryonic stem cell research, cloning are showing that Roe v. Wade reveals itself as the fault line of our culture which threatens the future of our democracy with a moral earthquake.

When you live in areas at risk of earthquakes, you need to make sure that what you build is built to withstand the tremors and the shaking of earthquakes. Buildings not up to code need to be retrofitted.

Today, our culture needs to be “retrofitted” lest further moral earthquakes cause its complete collapse – for unless they are grounded in the truth about the human person, our social institutions – from the most basic, marriage and family, to the complex modern state – will lack enduring stability.

Today, the increased confusion over the meaning and purpose of sexual relations, as witnessed by the rush to approve homosexual marriage, the rising number of divorces, the fear of permanent commitment in our youth which keeps them from giving of themselves either in the vocation to married life or the vocation of service to the Church through priesthood or consecrated life, and many other social indicators in our society show the fragility of our culture’s commitment to the dignity of each human person.

  • In this election year, we must seize the opportunity and organize, organize, organize so that we make our votes count so that legislation that protects life and promotes religious freedom is passed. Here in Florida in November, you need to vote for – and encourage your neighbors to vote for – both Amendment 6 and Amendment 8. 
  • In our outreach to mothers who have had abortions we must seize the opportunities to reconcile them to God, and to allow them to speak so that they may give their witness to what abortion has done to them.
  • We must seize every opportunity to encourage a woman or a young girl who finds herself pregnant so that she does not choose to end the life of her unborn child.
  • We must take advantage of every chance, every opportunity to overcome evil with good.

Often we like to think that in the face of troubles in our Church or in our society, that given time things would straighten themselves out in the end. Sometimes, it happens that way – if you leave a problem alone it straightens itself out. But our culture will not fix itself. The culture of death has advanced too far for us to remain complacent.

Christians cannot allow themselves to be complacent. Pope Benedict XVI in his Lenten message this year warns us: “We cannot remain silent in the face of evil.” Complacency in the face of evil has brought us scandal in the Church and has weakened our witness, our ability to be “for the world.” As Christians, Jesus warns us not to be “of the world;” but, at the same time, he does not want us to be “against the world.” As Christians, we must be “for the world.”

  • Being for the world means: helping our brothers and sisters to also reexamine the structural foundations of their lives by inviting them to conversion of mind and heart.
  • Being for the world means: witnessing to the value of every human life created in God’s image and likeness from the first moment of conception to natural death.
  • Being for the world means not shirking our duties as citizens to make our proposal to our fellow citizens about the dignity of each human being and to work tirelessly to pass laws that will protect life and promote life.

Today, as we continue on our Lenten journey, we pray that Mary who said yes to life will intercede for us that we too may always say yes to life. And in the Eucharist, we participate in Jesus’ “yes” to his Father that is re-presented in this memorial of his sacrificial death. May our sharing in His Body and Blood strengthen us to always say “yes” to life in all its forms and all its stages, from the very first moment of conception to natural death.

Comments from readers

Evalina Van Lengen - 03/28/2012 03:52 PM
I attended the Nascent Mass and was so pleased to hear your homily. Now I can print it and share with the volunteers at the Respect Life office and with my friends.
God bless you for your encouraging words.
Maria Wadsworth - 03/25/2012 04:53 PM
Thank you for speaking up. The Church is being attacked. The U.S Constitution is being trampled. We cannot stay in the sidelines. This is the most important election in our life times

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