Three remarkable images came together for me as I celebrated Mass today, on 22 January, the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. The bishops advised priests on this day to celebrate a Mass for Peace and Justice and “pray for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”
The first image comes from the first reading of the Mass of the day, from the book of Samuel. David comes upon his enemy Saul in a cave. His supporters urge him to kill Saul but David “restrained his men.” David refuses and spares the life of Saul, “the Lord’s anointed.” He takes a stand against violence, a stand for life--prefiguring the words of Jesus that we must love, a love that extends to our enemies.
The second image is the powerful picture of the seven-year-old Haitian boy, Kiki, emerging from eight days in the rubble, a smile on his face, his outstretched arms raised over his head as he his handed over to a familiar face. The rescue teams who had dug him out cheer him and share in his joy, as they see the fruit of their labor.
We know that thousands died in Haiti, including Kiki’s little brother. Yet amid such suffering we are deeply moved by the smile of Kiki. In this iconic photo, Kiki represents all true humanity – from life in the womb to the elderly--indeed all of God’s creation, with our instinctive God-given urge to preserve and share life.
The final image is that of the thousands of pro-lifers gathering in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House, coming from all corners of the U.S. They carry their flashlights as they march and stand for life. They are part of the growing movement, now a majority, in the U.S. that is pro-life.
Surely the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, was present with King David, with Kiki and his rescuers, and with the marchers in Washington. May each of us, in our own way, guided by that same Spirit, act against the forces of death and violence and stand strong for the culture of life and nonviolence.
Peter Schineller, SJ
Photo of Kiki's rescue by Matthew McDermott (at The New York Post; website)