The first Sunday of October every year is named by the Catholic Church as Respect Life Sunday. When we talk about respecting life, we are referring to every creature of God, in other words, all creation. Everything that exists is born of God and of His goodness, and all that God has made is good (Genesis 1:31). Respecting life is what we mean by the idea of reverence, and reverence is giving the appropriate response to the value, the goodness of God’s creation. The greeting used by those who practice Yoga is “Namaste.” This inspiring greeting means “I reverence the good that is within you.” Since God is “the” GOOD, and the source and creator of all that is good we believe that everything is a gift from God and all creation is worthy of our reverence.
The original sin of humanity was that of choosing to “ordain” themselves as gods, opting out of the God-creature relationship. When humanity no longer sees God as creator and source of all good, the result is that reverence is soon forgotten, dismissed, or denied. Notice the Cain and Abel tragic story early on in the book of Genesis, 4:8. When we no longer value all creation (persons and things) as being good, we soon pick and choose what we feel is good or rationalize to be good. Value becomes relative, and reverence is diminished. In our weakness of mind and in our self-centeredness of heart we no longer value good objectively but look for it and see it subjectively. We see good, value, truth according to our own selfish interests and choices. Such is the weakened human condition.
Thanks be to God, we are graced by the Word of truth, Jesus, the Word-Made-Flesh. Through Him we have the power to know and grow through our wounded humanity. The Ten Commandments speak to us of what is valuable and therefore to be reverenced. Jesus showed us by his life, death, and resurrection the beauty of this goodness and truth. Through the saving life and work of Jesus we are now free to reverence good, to know what is good, and to choose that good. Another way of saying this is that we have the intelligence and freedom to respect life through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The image of God is goodness; we are graced to know and choose goodness. Life is good. Our response to this value, this goodness, is to reverence all life and in a special way, human life, which God embraced in the Incarnation of Jesus. Every person from the moment of conception to natural death is to be recognized, protected, respected and cared for as a gift from God.
Whether we are young or old, healthy or ill, stranger or acquaintance, male or female, we are brothers and sisters to one another in the one human family. For ourselves and for one another we are called by God to “choose life.” To choose life is to choose the good; to choose the good is to choose God!