Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This week marks the first week of Ordinary Time in the Church’s calendar. As we look ahead to the coming year — a year in which it seems we will be asked whether we want to make abortion part of the state constitution — how fitting it is that the readings begin by focusing on the conception of a child! (The conception of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1.)
In the spirit of St. Mark, whose Gospel we read this year, let’s get right to the point: We’re going to be asked whether we as a society want to protect the “right” to kill our children. And by raising the issue to the level of the state constitution we would be saying: “This is essential to our state — this is what makes us who we are.”
In response to that prospect, I simply want to say two things.
First, this is going to be presented to us under the guise of defending freedom. But we need to ask: Freedom for what? Freedom for parents to kill their children, rather than help them grow. Freedom for the powerful to eliminate the vulnerable, rather than lift them up. Freedom to offer women a short-term solution and ask them to bear the long-term physical, psychological and spiritual consequences alone, rather than supporting women as the ones through whom all life flows into our communities. My friends, that’s a cheap freedom. Is that the freedom the “Show Me State” wants to show to the world?
Second, if we enshrine that version of freedom into our constitution, we will not be able to object to anything — not in principle. Our calls that women, children and the vulnerable deserve better from society will all ring hollow. I say: Women and children and the vulnerable deserve a better version of freedom, and a better version of freedom is what Missouri wants to show the world. I ask you to consider joining me in saying that, too.
This week we also hear about the call of Samuel to serve the Lord. In the midst of Samuel’s vocation story we hear this curious point: “At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord.” It’s curious because Samuel was living in the Temple, sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant! But the point is this: While Samuel knew many things about the Lord, he did not know the living voice of God in his life.
I think we could all join Samuel in coming to a deeper knowledge of the living voice of God in our lives!
In the Gospel this week we hear: “When Jesus returned to Capernaum … it became known that He was at home.” We sometimes miss the personalization and intimacy of that: Jesus had a home!
I want to encourage all of us to grow in the personalization and intimacy hidden in that passage. Read the Scriptures, especially the New Testament. Read a chapter a day. If possible, find a place where you can read it out loud!
When the words of the Bible find a place in our minds and on our lips, the Word of God increasingly finds a home in our hearts. He will come to be “at home” in us spiritually, as He was once at home in Capernaum physically. Then, as the manger held Christ at Christmas, we can carry Him in our hearts through the whole year.
God bless you this coming year.