The more I hear confessions and the more I become aware of my own sinfulness, it becomes increasingly clear that the problem is not the litany of sins that we name when we go to confession but rather is the one sin that can often go unnamed - pride . The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines pride as “undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.” This competition with the Lord is simply the necessary first-step to sin – we put our human will against the God’s Divine Will and then we make the choice in favor of ourselves.
This exaltation of self and opposition to the Will of God, though is nothing new. Adam and Eve being brought up in our first reading only helps to connect the links that they were the first to sin against God, choosing to taste of the forbidden fruit rather than refrain. And thousands of years later, as a human race and as individuals, we still haven’t learned our lessons.
As we gather this weekend we celebrate Respect Life Sunday, if we’re honest with ourselves, we recognize that our country today isn’t really all that respectful of human lives. Each year in our nearly 1.4 million children are killed from the horror of abortion. In the recent universal healthcare legislation, contraceptives to prevent pregnancy will be covered as ‘preventative healthcare’ as if a child were some sort of disease to be avoided at all costs. Additionally, three states have already legalized physician-assisted suicide and other states have begun working to move forward with such legislation. And as each year go by more and more people who suffer from mental, physical or psychological issues are being cast aside as they are said to have ‘poor quality of life’ or have lost their productivity in our society. All of these things and many more are grave injustices that are taking place right before our eyes and we, the people of God in America, have an obligation to work and pray for an end to it and that the Kingdom of God would truly reign in our society.
When Adam and Eve first chose to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they knew it was opposed to the Lord’s command. But they let themselves be convinced by the devil that it wasn’t wrong but that the Lord simply didn’t want them to become like Him. They bought into the lies and tried to change the rules, saying they had the right to eat of the tree. And they merited death for themselves and for us, their children.
Like our first parents, our country’s leaders have looked at the laws that God set up – laws that protected the unborn, that promoted the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death, and worked for the good of all people – and they have listened once again to the lies of the devil. Hearing that little whisper that we know better, that we have evolved, that God and His commandments are outdated, our country has begun to change little by little the laws of God. In addition to those named above, we could easily add the anti-life mentalities of many of our policies regarding immigration, war, the economy, and even sexuality. Ultimately what has happened is that people are no longer regarded as valuable because they have God-given dignity from being created in His image and likeness. Rather, people are valued based on what they can do for others, like products to be used rather than people to be loved.
For that reason we must pray and we must work to remedy these failures to follow after the Divine Will of God. Beginning with ourselves and spreading through our country and our world, we must be people who have a radical trust in God and His Will. In the Gospel Our Lord reminds us that “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” and so we must strive to be childlike, accepting as true what the Lord speaks to us through His Church and the Scriptures. This is something unique to our Catholic faith. Other individuals rely upon their own thought, their personal interpretations, and their study of particular things. But as G.K. Chesterton so beautifully put it, “A Catholic is a person who has plucked up courage to face the incredible and inconceivable idea that something else may be wiser than he is.” In other words, we know that God is bigger than us and for that reason we must trust in Him and His Will and defend it until the day He brings us to enjoy our Heavenly reward.