Among important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Catholic Church is concerned, abortion takes a central role, since its victims remain the most vulnerable and defenceless members of the human family. Recently (on Friday, June 18), the Bishop conference of the United State voted to draft a statement on the Holy Eucharist to admonish Catholic politicians including President Joe Biden, who personally opposes abortion but supports a woman’s right to choose. This view appears contradictory and is against the Church’s doctrines on pro-life. In Nigerian, killing has become the order of the day. In view of this, the Church draws our attention this Sunday to reflect on the life God has given to humanity. We have no right to take the life of another; rather we should support whatever enhances life. The first reading tells us, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living… For God created man for incorruption, and made him in his image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy, death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.” Practically God is always on the side of life, he wants us to live. Whatever that diminishes or ruins life does not come from him, but from our sins. The Holy Mother Church teaches us that Life begins at conception and is God given. Therefore, in the eyes of the Church, abortion is always wrong and is classified as murder and goes against the commandment, “Thou shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). Christ reiterated this commandment in Mt 19:18 “You must not murder.” While some persons may clamour for their rights to life, they should remember that in doing that, they have no right to take the life of the other person, no matter how unformed or disable the life of the other person may appear.
We must not intentionally kill; rather we must support life, respect life, protect life, nurture human life at every stage of its existence and serve life. Christ tells us, “The devil has come to steal, to kill and to destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). This is what Wisdom meant when it says, God made man in his image of his own eternity, it resides in our imperishable soul. Christ in the Gospel demonstrated his passion for life through the daughter of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood. One thing is central in these two persons; it is their faith in Jesus Christ. Jairus (one of the rulers of the synagogue), whose daughter was at the point of death came to Jesus and said, “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” This is an expression of total confidence in the power and goodness of Jesus, who is ready to give life and healing to all who desire it. Mark’s Gospel did not give us the age of the daughter. However, the Gospel of Luke 40:42 records that the daughter was about twelve years old. The woman with the flow of blood was in a desperate condition for twelve years.
Her condition made her ceremonially unclean, which does not allow her take part in Israel’s worship and this was a significant burden to life for these number of years (Lev 15:19-31). By the very law of her people, she was divorced of her husband, and could not live in her home; she was ostracized from all society, and must not come in contact with her old friends. She knew the consequences of coming in contact with people that is why she said, “If I touch even his garment, I shall be made well.” At the contact with Christ, the haemorrhage ceased as the power of Christ flowed to her. Her uncleanliness did not make Christ unclean; rather the reverse was the case. While she acted like a robber or someone stealing blessing, Christ wanted her to understand that she did not steal anything, she received her healing by faith. To her greatest amazement, Christ did not call her thief of criminal. Rather, he called her “Daughter; your faith has made you well.” While this was happening before Jairus, the news came to him that “Your daughter is dead.” He must have said within him that Christ was wasting too much time with the woman while his daughter was dying.
Ignoring their message Christ said to him, “Do not fear, only believe.” Fear and faith are incompatible. Those who do not believe in his power, he placed them outside and said to the girl, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Again, they were amazed at his authority over the dead. In this, we see how Christ responded differently to individual’s need who were earnestly in search for life and are overburdened. Jairus had twelve years of sunshine that was about to be extinguished. The woman had twelve years of agony that seems hopeless to heal. Jairus was probably a rich and important man, the ruler in the synagogue. The woman was nobody in the society, not even her name was mention and she was obviously poor, having spent all her livelihood on physicians to treat her disease. While Jairus came publicly and thought Christ has to do a lot to heal her daughter, she came secretly to Jesus with the hope to touch just his garment, but Christ healed her publicly and healed Jairus daughter secretly.
In view of this, that the second reading reminds us that God has generously given us everything in Jesus Christ, who for our sake became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich. He died for us so that we might live. Dear friends in Christ, as it is the will of Christ for us to have life and have it in full, let us on our part do everything humanly possible to enhance life. It is not enough to criticize political leaders of insecurity in our land as it ravages the lives and properties of our people. Anyone who ventures into abortion or support it directly or indirectly becomes an accompanist and so guilty of this very evil that befalls us. Let us not be part of those who take the lives of innocent ones or support killings in any form. Human life is sacred and we should uphold it. In any way we have been found guilty of this, may God have mercy on us. Amen! Happy Sunday! Fr. Ken Dogbo, OSJ