Sunday, 10 March 2013
Novena for Life
This week was my turn to speak at the Novena for Life. Please find the recording and the text below. For other talks recorded at the novena please check Dominicans Interactive or the iDoms Portal App!
Talk at the Novena for Life
I didn’t grow up as a Catholic, and as such I still find it amazing sometimes to look back at the time before being baptised, just over ten years ago. While now in the light of the faith I have come to appreciate all the more the dignity of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death.
In the first 22 years of my life I completely accepted the cultural outlook which considered it normal to abort a pregnancy if it seemed convenient. Similarly I would have looked favourably on what is termed “mercy killing”, the killing of the handicapped or the elderly. Looking back now I find it scary how relativism and a lack of perception of true reality distorted my understanding of what is good, true and beautiful. While I would have seen myself as somebody open to logical thinking, it is only now after my encounter with the Gospel, with the person of Christ, that so many positions I held before seem so irrational.
In St. John’s Gospel we read that a delegation of representatives from Jerusalem came to the River Jordan to inquire about the preaching of this man named John the Baptist. After inquiring about his identity, and being unhappy with the answers and yet eager to bring a definitive reply to the authorities, the investigators push for a response and John said “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Jn 1:23 RSV)
Israel was a blessed nation; A nation which was called to completely trust in God in everything they did. However at the time of John the Baptist seemed to have lost sight of the reality which was enfolding around them; the reality that was indeed walking among them. The authorities did not want to accept John’s message in the midst of their political manoeuvrings, and they miss what John is really saying; what he is really pointing at: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14 RSV).
The situation at the time of Jesus seems to me to be strikingly similar in our own cultural situation. God is with us, with all of us, but is not anymore recognised or is even at times rejected because His message is not convenient anymore. This has consequences as we all know when we look around us.
When I reflect on my own experience when younger, and how acceptable for example abortion had become in the society I was brought up in, I am perplexed. How is it possible that a society once so religious can accept for example that a baby is not a baby unless somebody wants it to be, when a person only becomes a person by convention! Even though the understanding of the dignity of every human being is written on our hearts, it seems that the voice of conscience is lost. It seems that society can now decide what the truth is; decide when these cells conveniently become a human person, and adversely also when they cease to be. It seems that the truth is the truth which I, or a specific group, believe in. Any link with objectivity is lost, and any value is negotiable.
What is missing is the true light to enlighten our understanding and to inform our conscience. When we dwell in darkness, or in the fading light, it is hard to make clear distinctions, to see clearly what is happening around us. Everything becomes dim. We need therefore to return to the true light, and It is only in the encounter with God that this light comes to us. Without this light to enlighten our conscience, objective values become blurred. Opinions often grounded on well-intended emotional arguments are portrayed as truths.
I came to belief through the witness of another catholic. So what society needs most in these times, it seems to me, are witnesses to the light inviting people back to the light of Christ and to scatter the darkness in their lives.
I think it is therefore crucial that we realise that we need to be vocal. We need our voices to be heard. Through baptism, and especially through confirmation, we are called to be public people! Our voices need not to be raised in anger, but it can be something as simple as the good example of Christian living, the kind word or the odd comment to invite people back into the mystery which is the faith. It does not matter how much ‘society’ wants to push back our religion to the private sphere, it is up to us as believers to make it clear faith is not simply a private affair. That is why colourful manifestations as the last Pro Life Vigils are important to proclaim the message that we do believe in something that is worth fighting for, something worth living for. At the moment it is the right to life, but there are many other issue which also need to be defended and supported such as the rights of a family and its central role in society.
By re-introducing people to the Gospel, and by giving them a genuine encounter with the God who loves them, their lives too can be transformed. In the encounter with Jesus there is the discovery of the Truth which does exist and is objective. As I have experienced in my own story in this encounter our eyes are opened, our minds enlightened, and the reality which seemed so bleak and dim, becomes a life filled experience and an enjoyable journey to eternal happiness.
When I discovered that God existed, and more importantly, that He is a God whom we can know, my eyes were opened and suddenly everything that was obscure and dark had the light of light shining on it. When I started to pray and to know more about Jesus, when I started to talk to Him, that is when I had this gradual experience of the true reality being revealed.
Therefore let us try to be voices in the desert too like John the Baptist. In the desert of hopelessness and darkness, we can announce the living water to people who are thirsting for God. People who in many cases do not realise this. Like myself before I was a Catholic, I was searching, but was looking in the wrong places. I did not see what was right before my eyes. We can proclaim that the Lord is standing among us because we have met Him, He is with us. Jesus is always there knocking at each and everyone’s door. If only the knock is heard and the door opened amazing things can happen.
The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.