By Mary Huber
The month of October is designated by the Catholic Church in the United States as the Respect Life month, represented this year by the theme “Be Not Afraid.”
It is a phrase that is most commonly repeated in the Old and New Testament. God promises us that He will be with us always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Nevertheless, as we are affirmed of this unwavering love, most attacks on human life are based out of fear. Fear of an unwanted pregnancy, fear of shame, fear of suffering at the end of our lives and fear of the “other,” the one who does not look like us or come from the same place as us.
As Christians we are called to be the Light of Christ to a world enslaved by fear and to boldly advocate for a Culture of Life. We find this calling in our Christian identity, created in the image and likeness of God. It is here where we discover the essence of our worth and that of our neighbor and the appeal to go out into the world and cultivate what Pope Francis calls, “a culture of encounter.” We face life’s storms by accompanying each other.
Our Blessed Mother is the first disciple and a powerful role model. “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). With her guidance we can be the hands and feet of Jesus; to see with His eyes, to hear with His ears and to feel with His heart. So as we are called to missionary discipleship, let us pray this prayer from St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
Lord, open our eyes
that we may see you in our brothers and sisters.
Lord, open our ears
that we may hear the cries of the hungry,
the cold, the frightened, the oppressed.
Lord, open our hearts
that we may love each other as you love us.
Renew in us your spirit.
Lord, free us and make us one.