One of the greatest moments of clarity I ever experienced while investigating the Catholic Church was when I came to understand a simple truth: Life is sacred; plain and simple. While I know it may be elementary to many, this simple truth helped me unlock the answers to all my confusion on the Church’s teachings. Once I had a firm understanding of why life is sacred (which I won’t get into at the moment, you’ll just have to go with me on this), I was able to apply this standard to many contemporary issues that were holding me up in my faith life.
If you look at life as sacred, then it follows that everything should be done to preserve it, and nothing should be done to prevent it. This life is not ours, but a gift from the One who created it. In drawing this line, many teachings became clear. Why would the Church be against contraception? Well, it prevents life from happening if God wills it. Why would the Church be against euthanasia? Ending a life is not the decision of a person, but is in the hands of God. Why would the Church be against homosexual acts? These cannot be procreative, and that is not what the Church teaches about sexual relationships.
Many of these teachings can be uncomfortable; in fact they are not politically correct. But if one can see the line in the sand and what is being valued, then this rubric can be applied to any case. One of the most recent examples of where politics, emotion and personal desire can come into conflict with this moral line is the death penalty. Whether it is the case of a mass shooting at a school, military base, or movie theater, or whether it is the senseless acts of evil done to women and children, when we hear of it we are impelled to cry out for justice. We seek justice to make things better. We want justice for those who can’t speak for themselves. When the atrocities are so great, so depraved and so immoral, we find ourselves looking for the worst punishment we can muster. We look for the death penalty.
But, we are not the authors of life. We do not have the right to take it away from anyone, no matter how justified it feels. Believe me, I know this teaching is hard. And if a violent tragedy touches you in a personal way, you wish for retribution all the more. However, do we lose sight of who we are, who has created us and the sanctity of life in our most heated moments? Or is this the time when we are called to be something more? Christ calls upon us to forgive those who hurt us. We are to pray for those who persecute us. If we only love those who love us, what reward is there in this? In the midst of His pain and suffering, Christ called out to His Father to forgive those who had set Him up to die.
I am certainly glad that I am not the judge. I am glad that I am not the one with the right to determine who is accountable for the sins they have committed. Heaven would be a lonely and empty place if my feeble mind was to occupy the judgement seat. We are taught to value every life. I may not always like or understand this teaching, but I will always live by it.
Tags » call to holiness, charity, community, control, faith, forgiveness, God's love, homosexuality, jesus, justification, love, mercy, moral living, prayer, redemption, right to life, sacrifice, sin, social justice, suffering, trust