Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Being against abortion is part and parcel of being pro-life, but it is more than politics — it is how we treat the people we don’t see and the people we do.
Just as “thou shalt not kill” is more than whether one takes the life of another, so also loving and holding all human life as having innate dignity and value is more than merely being against Planned Parenthood and abortion and abortifacients.
Christ’s explanation of the Ten Commandments as an extension of what are essentially two — Love God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength and Love your neighbor as yourself — still holds. God’s love always expands outward toward eternity because it must, because it is infinite. So also, our love for our God and our neighbor must be the same.
So what does it mean to be pro-life? It means embracing all of humanity as the Christ child to be received. It means seeing a mother as having full dignity irrespective of how or why she came to be with child. It means seeing the baby as fully human, irrespective of physical capacity as indicated by screenings. It means seeing the person who honks in solidarity or shoots the finger as one’s brother or sister. We are our brother’s keepers in all things, if we would be like Christ and the saints. Seeing Christ in his distressing disguise means we no longer call people by their sins or perceived sins, but by their names, and treat them as we would want our own to be cared for — and the world needs more examples of what is kind, what is generous, and what is healing. We have too many examples of what is cruel, indifferent, greedy and hurtful.
How do we act then? We look to see Christ, even if not especially in those with whom we disagree, to pray for conversions of heart (with all of our hearts), and to pray that if it is our heart that needs reshaping, that Christ do so. The prayers of the early Christians, no doubt of Saint Stephen, helped Saint Paul. We should be praying for a world of such conversions.
We don’t get to decide who is worthy of our love and who may be rightly denied it — who is worthy of our aid (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, welcome the stranger, etc.). Being pro-life means seeing that we aren’t to allow our own tendency to sin and selfishness to define the limits of our love for others, but to allow Christ to constantly push beyond them. Bringing Christ to others means going out the door and encountering other souls, and treating each of them as if they were Christ himself. How would we respond to the dirty Christ, the refugee Christ, the impoverished Christ, the bloody Christ, the thirsty Christ? Would we, like the one thief, think, “You deserve it, after all, you could have done differently,” or would we recognize that it always should be us and not Christ, convicted and crucified.
The disabled, the elderly, the homeless and the lost are our extended family. It means seeing those who break the laws as the thief Jesus welcomed into heaven, or the woman at the well as someone worthy of receiving the eternal living water Jesus offers.
Wash the feet of every person, and offer them the first seat at the table. Let your faith inform everything. The crux of being a friend of Jesus is that you see Christ everywhere, and wherever you are you help reveal Christ to the world.