When I was in grade school, I loved the educational field trips. I loved them not just because it got me out of school, but because it helped me to open my mind and heart in a different perspective than the classroom could do for me. For instance, I remember in 8th grade we studied Untied States history and as a field trip we went to Washington, DC. We saw a lot of museums that day, but the one thing that we saw that still resonates within me was the Vietnam Memorial. This memorial is a little under 250 feet long and has a little more than 58,000 names engraved on it. This wall had a powerful simple way to honor and help us remember those who lost their lives in that awful war.
When my class and I got to the wall we started to look at it and casually read the names on it. At first, the names didn’t mean much to me. It didn’t mean much until I saw one of my friend’s dad, who was chaperoning us the trip, looking at the wall very differently than we were. He was examining it very seriously, searching for something. When he found what he was looking for, he went over to wall, pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, and pressed the paper against wall. Then he started to rub a marker against the paper until there was a perfect image of the name that was on the wall on the piece of paper. He did that a few times down the wall and then, all of a sudden, he started to cry. His son went over to him and asked him if he was okay. His response was the reason why he was crying. The names on the piece of paper were some of his friends that died in that war.
When I witnessed this, I think that was the first time I really understood that war is not just something we study in books, see in movies, or read casually on a wall. The people who fought had lives, friends, parents and so much more life ahead of them. When I reflect on all of this, I think of today, as this day kicks off a month of respect life. The bishops of the United States each October ask for Catholics to help reflect and understand more, the value of all life from conception to natural death, and become engaged with building a culture that cherishes every human life. This is a call for us to pray and act on the love of life, specifically for those lives that can’t fight for themselves.
In our country, we have lost sight of the dignity of human life in so many ways and we have especially lost sight of this for unborn babies. If we are not sure of that, imagine if we made the memorial wall, like that of the Vietnam wall, for all the aborted babies since 1973. If one were constructed, there would be more that 60,000,000 names on it. This wall would go from where it in stands in DC to Baltimore and back. This just seems too big to comprehend as this fight against this Goliath seems almost impossible to defeat. This is a huge spiritual warfare because our goal is not just to pray for abortion to be illegal, but to pray that everyone can lovingly see how precious life is from conception to natural death.
How do we win this impossible fight? Many times in scripture when God’s people seemed outnumbered and all hope was lost, God rescued his people through unexpected and courageous acts. One figure that comes to mind is King David. We all know the story of David and Goliath, where before David was king, he was an unexpected warrior, a shepherd, who used an unexpected weapon, a slingshot, to defeat the biggest army in the world and its biggest warrior Goliath. This shows that all things all possible with God.
Jesus Christ, in the human race, is an unexpected warrior and his unexpected weapon is the cross. Through the cross, he has engraved each of our names into his heart. He loves each one of us unconditionally and shows that he would rather die than spend all eternity without us as his memorial wall is in the zillions. Have we come to really know this yet? If so, what does His love for us inspire us to do for others? Are we willing to do the same as he does for us, especially for the unborn? God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, wants to show us the way. He wants to trace His Son’s passion and death into our hearts. This may be painful at times to accept, but the more we come to realize how much He loves each of us, the more we will treat others with the same dignity and respect that God treat us!