Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Preaching The Gospel of Life

As we countdown to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, we here at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine are remembering and celebrating the legacy of this great saint.

Of the many gifts John Paul II left to the Church, his teaching on the dignity and inviolability of every human life is perhaps one of his most important. This teaching is well summarized in the introduction to his Evangelium Vitae:

The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.

At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11). The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Savior; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.

Every person is called to self-fulfillment, to realize him or herself through sharing in the divine life. The lofty vocation of man, he writes, is what makes his life so sacred here on earth. Given threats to human life in the present day, John Paul II calls all believers to defend the dignity of every human person. He asks them to stand with him against abortion, war, the death penalty and numerous other violations towards this dignity.

Blessed John Paul II’s love for the human person is reflected in Evangelium Vitae and other writings he published throughout his life. This love was also made clear through his daily encounters with others. With him, let us now ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession, that we may all preach the Gospel of Life through our words and actions:

O Mary,
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.

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