Thus says the LORD: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien… You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry to me, I will surely hear them cry.” (Ex 22:20-22)
In our first reading today we hear how God commands his chosen people not to molest or oppress any alien people whom they encounter, for they themselves were once an alien people oppressed in Egypt. The Lord God continues: the Israelites are to do no wrong to any widow or orphan. Still the Lord God persists, for the Spirit makes it clear that God hears the cry of all those who are wronged and who have no voice. The world may not hear these cries, but the Lord says, “I will surely hear them…”
It is a very unfortunate affair that the Church must make a distinction between what are called “life issues” and “social justice” issues. God makes no such distinction. God hears the cry of all the afflicted. He hears the cry of the widow and orphan, the cry of the enslaved, the cry of the refugee; the cry of the child in the womb and we know how much he loves his little ones (Mt 19:14). We should be in fear if these little ones cry out to God from the womb against us.
Now as Catholics we should consider the affliction of all people in our nation and around the world. However in an election season we should also consider that we are not just any people. We are people of true religion, we are people of faith; we are children of God who must stand fast with the ears of God hearing what others ignore. We cannot forsake life in any form but especially we cannot forsake life in the womb because as God’s stewards we should surely hear the babes whom others do not hear.
Have you not heard “out of the mouth of babes… you have established a bulwark against your foes to silence [the] enemy” (Ps 8:2) and also “Wisdom … gave ready speech to infants” (Wis 10:21). If we do not hear the cries of the children in the womb and do not put them first in the voting booth, them tell me (please tell me) who else will? The world is not listening! The United Nations, the European Union, and the secularists of our own nation listen to the cries of the refugee, the immigrant, the widow and orphan, but have blocked their ears entirely to the unborn. We Catholics are the last remaining hope of waiting-to-be-born children. Do you not see this? Have you not yet realized this?
For this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time we place on our bulletin cover a work by the great Baroque Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens entitled The Virgin and Child Surrounded by the Holy Innocents (1618 – courtesy Wikipedia). This image is representative of the eternal joy of those children massacred by King Herod after the birth of Jesus (Mt 2:16-18). We offer it as representative of our present hope for those children massacred in the womb by our modern society and for your most earnest reflection during this election cycle.
True, we could have shown images of refuges crowded on boats, or hungry women and children. However, the world has been shown these images and has mostly acted. We also could have placed on our bulletin cover Ruben’s Massacre of the Innocents. In our time, it is these innocents that have yet to be sufficiently spoken for… and voted for.
-Steve Guillotte, Director of Pastoral Services