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Fr. Frank Pavone

Opinion

Christmas should inspire us to fight even harder to save babies from abortion

Fr. Frank Pavone

December 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – God took on a body at Christmas, and became visible, so that love could become visible. It is the incarnation, a word coming from the Latin "in carne," which means, "in the flesh." Christmas is God in the flesh: no longer only an eternal Spirit who fills the universe, but our brother, whom we can hear, see, and touch. By having his own blood, he could shed it for us. By having his own body, he could offer it on the cross for us.

God becoming visible at Christmas is not only a blessing we receive; it is an obligation we accept. In receiving the one who took on a body precisely to sacrifice it for us, we accept the duty and privilege of sacrificing our own bodies, possessions, and lives in order to love one another, especially the oppressed, first among whom are the unborn.

Emmanuel or “God with Us” became incarnate to empower us to love him, and to love our neighbor. It is not in abstract concepts that we find the strength to sacrifice ourselves in life-giving action. It is, rather, in the contact with the humanity we serve. It is facing the injustice that oppresses human lives, and then making a human response to it that springs from the depths of our own humanity, grounded in the God who gave that humanity to us.

Christ demonstrates his sacrifice visibly so that we can imitate it. Hence Saint John writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 John 3:16). That includes our brothers and sisters still in the womb, the children who are deprived of legal protection of their very lives (and therefore of all their other rights as well).

That’s right. We are to lay down our lives for them! Again, this is no abstract, make-believe, or half-hearted commitment. This contact with the humanity of Christ at Christmas speaks to us of what we are to do now for the unborn. It is to come in contact with the human reality of their lives, and the human tragedy of their deaths, that is to impel us in our self-sacrificing love for them. This is discipleship, which admits of no cheap grace. A passionate adherence to Christ -- who took on a body at Christmas and has it to this day -- means a passionate imperative to rescue the needy and to save them, not just spiritually but physically.

It is a difficult calling to sacrifice for the unborn but it is a not new phenomenon. Others went before us to lead by example. Basil of Caesarea, for instance, fought intensely against abortion and infanticide in the 4th century Roman Empire.

So passionate was Basil in his concern for life that apparently, late one evening after Vespers, he and several deacons from the church actually went outside the city to dismantle the old Caesarean infanticide shrine with their bare hands. He knew that such direct action could very well have jeopardized his standing, but he was driven by an irrepressible spiritual imperative…Hearing of Basil’s solitary crusade, the Emperor Valentinian took the first step toward the full criminalization of child-killing in 374...' {Third Time Around: A history of the Pro-life Movement from the First Century to the Present, by George Grant, 1991, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, pp.20-21)

Notice the reference to being "passionate," and to the "irrepressible spiritual imperative." It is that expressed above by Saint John. Because Christ came among us physically and gave his life on the cross, we can give our lives for one another. We can take risks to protect one another. Basil was stirred by a physical evil, inspired by a God who became physical in the Incarnation, and impelled to physical action.

In a 2013 mass, Pope Francis said, "We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress - the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked, because he is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he's in jail because he is in the hospital...Those are the wounds of Jesus today. …We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed."

Let us touch the sufferings of the baby who is in danger of abortion, and be changed into fearless warriors for them.

Priests for Life is the world's largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion. For more reflections on the connections between the Advent-Christmas season and our pro-life commitment, download the ebook at ChristmasForTheUnborn.com.

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