As I so often mention here and elsewhere, there is a great difference between being pro-life and merely anti-abortion. This presents a challenge to us all. We cannot possibly champion every good pro-life cause. It’s impossible. There is a phenomenon in the social sciences known as Compassion Fatigue. Loosely defined, it is the emotional burnout experienced in trying to heal everyone’s pain.
We are not the Savior of the world, nor should we try.
We all have our areas of special interest which we integrate with our families, friends, prayer lives and our jobs; that one area where we pour our energies in hopes of making a difference. Yet, in the passage from Matthew today, Jesus expects us to see Him in a broad range of people. That’s our challenge-to see beyond the cause to which we are called. To aid others in the causes to which they are called; perhaps with our money, perhaps an evening or two here and there as a volunteer, and most certainly with our prayers. Perhaps it’s making a more conscientious effort at dropping a little food off at the local food pantry, or taking the time to visit a sick member of the parish or congregation. Perhaps we could baby-sit one evening for a young couple and give them a few hours to recharge and reconnect.
It doesn’t need to be heroic, just loving. That’s pro-life.
That said, the more we cooperate with grace, integrating deepening activity with deepening prayer, the more grace is added to us; thus increases our capacity to do more without falling prey to compassion fatigue.
Those whom I have met in the pro-life movement, particularly the post-abortive mothers have taught me a great deal about the love and mercy of God. Consequently, I have come to see Lent increasingly as a season more involving a focus on the readings in this series of articles and not exclusively acts of self-mortification. It’s more about coming to see Jesus as He wishes us to see Him in Matthew’s Gospel, and looking at those things that cloud our vision, freeing us to be truly pro-life.
The Sheep and the Goats
31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”