Yesterday around 50,000 people, mostly under 30 years of age, testified to the sacred value of every human life by walking down Market Street here in San Francisco. 60 people from our own parish walked as well, under our blue parish flag, behind our blue banner, most wearing our blue parish T-shirts. The 11th annual Walk for Life West Coast met limited but fierce opposition—a little knot of pro-abortion folks at Powell Street, which our wonderful SFPD dutifully kept back from the peaceful prolife crowd. One of them shouted repeatedly through a bullhorn, “the fetus is not a baby,” while families passed by with large photographs of beautiful babies, fully-formed, in the womb. We wondered how they could be so angry and in such denial.
Pope Francis coined the term “throw away culture,” which best describes the abortion industry. We throw away perfectly good food, we throw away usable clothing, cars, and electronics; we too easily give up on marriages that could be repaired and friendships that just need a little loving care. But it began, I think, when we began throwing away our children. We all bear this national sadness, in that we have given up on what just needs a little love. But the Walk for Life yesterday was not sad, and not angry (except for the few counter demonstrators). It was full of joy, the joy of our youth. After all, the Walk for Life is about the joy of new life. It is the natural law that we proclaim, and the existence of a beneficent God who has given us life, and given it abundantly.
The Joy of the Gospel
In the first reading today, Ezra the priest publicly reads from the books of the Law to the Jewish people. Israel had lost the law for 50 years during their Babylonian Captivity, and they have a lot of catching up to do. Ezra reads from daybreak to midday, and the people weep as they hear it. “Do not weep,” Ezra says, “and do not be sad, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!” In the Gospel, the Lord himself reads from Isaiah in the Nazareth synagogue, where he had grown up. “I proclaim a year of grace, a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus finishes the reading, rolls up the scroll, and sits down. “Today, this prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing,” he says quietly. In Jesus, God is with us, and we are acceptable to the Him, no matter what we have done or had done to us. A few parishioners who had never been on the Walk before told me how much joy they discovered in hearing the speeches and seeing the energy of the crowds. They had accepted a culture in which parents give up on their children, and yesterday they discovered the joy of the Gospel. God can save us from the sadness that abortion brings to our land.
I’m always struck by the energy, the joy, the youthfulness of the Pro-life Movement. It is born of a conviction that we are free and at peace with nature if we submit to God’s natural ways. We can keep our children as do every other species God has placed on this beautiful earth. He will provide the joyful strength to face any difficulty that raising children may bring, if we but trust Him. As Obianuju Ekeocha, a speaker from Nigeria, said yesterday, "I stand here before you not just as a black person or an African person. I stand here before you as a woman to say we should never have to buy success with the blood of our babies." We do not have to choose between a child and a successful life. God gives us both, if we are willing to let Him describe success for us.