Advent Reflections – December 6, 2015

Open to Life: In Church Tradition

A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying. – John Paul II

The Catholic Church has an actually very simple philosophy on life. Life is to be respected, valued and protected from conception until natural death. Each life, regardless of who that life is, where they live, what they do, is sacred. And yet, often the simplest things in life are also the most complicated and challenging.

It is easy to be open to the life that we desire. It is easy to be open to the planned child, the neighbor who offers to watch our dog while we are out of town, the parent who ages gracefully, the person who holds the door open at the grocery store. Openness to life on our terms is easy.

The Church, however, isn’t calling us to be open to only the easy life. Jesus did not say “Blessed are those who loved the lovely, the gentle, the kind and forgiving.” Instead, he challenged that only those who saw Him hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison and sick, and did something about it, those few will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 25:31-46).

The Church’s understanding of being open to life is an outward motion. It’s about hands extended, reaching out to those in need to offer comfort, warmth, acceptance and mercy, even when we find it difficult to do so.

Mother Teresa was famous for her “Five Finger Prayer.” Holding up each finger on one hand, slowly say the words “You did it for Me.” How does this prayer, coupled with your understanding of “openness to life” challenge you to be more open to those you encounter today?