The Ninevites Believed Jonah and Repented; Can America Do Likewise?

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), “Jonah Preaching to the Ninevites”
Gustave Doré (1832-1883), “Jonah Preaching to the Ninevites” (photo: Public Domain)

An abortion clinic is opening two blocks from the parish where I go to encounter the Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Parents will drive the children who attend our parish school past the abortion clinic on their way to class. I will drive past the abortion clinic on my way to Mass, as will most of my fellow parishioners. Our parish priests will sleep in a rectory that is a stone’s throw from a place where children die horribly and in great numbers.

This, like just about everything else in the larger world, is all fresh news to me. Everything that was happening in the outside my circle of illness slipped past me in the long period when I was underwater with cancer and its treatment. I didn’t know much about one of our candidates for president. Then I woke up to discover things that left me aghast and demoralized by the Sophie’s Choice that is forced upon us. 

Ditto for this abortion clinic. It happened without me knowing about it. I didn’t watch or read the news during that long convalescence. Once in a while a mass murder would break through to my awareness, but I remained blissfully unaware of the imposition by the laws of commerce of this mass murder on the doorstep of my own church home.

Now that I am aware, my primary fear is that the parish will be overcome by the evil. The satanic influences in our society today have become ubiquitous. They have infected and even taken over some of major social and cultural interactions and events.

I think the devil feeds on hatred and all its manifestations, including calumny, slander, malice and the king-daddy progenitor of all these things, self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is the sin of Calvary; the direct and only real reason that a group of corrupt priests were able to convince themselves that they had not only the right, but their own hatched up moral imperative to plot, connive and suborn perjury so that they could commit murder by execution of an innocent man.

They did not realize that this man was God Himself. As Jesus prayed for them, He said, They know not what they do. But they were perfectly aware that the Man was innocent of the charges they had brought against Him; that they had lied, colluded and planned His death for what they saw as political necessity.

Self-righteousness is the sin that led to the murder of Christ. It is also, in another form, the sin of the garden. The woman took the apple because she listened to the devil when he told her that her understanding of right and wrong was greater than God’s. She made herself god by doing this, she took righteousness onto herself.

No sin seems to engender self-righteousness like abortion. Abortion is so evil that it drives good Christians to their own spiritual deaths by encouraging them to toss aside every other commandment in their quest to find the political traction to end it. It is easy for people who are enthralled with the evil of abortion to make their moral decisions based on what they see as the political necessity of compromising their Christian witness and their fealty to Christ to combat it.

But that is not the way to fight evil. It is the way to become disciples of evil ourselves.

My parish is a good place full of warm, loving people who exemplify the Beatitudes in the loving, giving, truly Christian way that they relate to one another and to the world. There are, as there always are, squabbles and petty meanness that crop up from time to time, but that is nothing more than the human, exercising its fallen self.

My parish is good, in the spiritual, Christian meaning of the word. It loves.

And now, the devil has put an abortion clinic smack in the face of this lovely parish. We are, all of us, going to be forced to drive past a killing field on our way to mass. We can’t do anything about it.

All we can do is decide what we are going to allow it to do to us.

Satan used human beings to toss this gauntlet down on our doorstep. But I have no doubt that he is behind the placement of this clinic. There are all sorts of locations that the clinic backers could have chosen. But they put their death factory right on the doorstep of this very good, kind and loving Catholic parish.

My fellow parishioners and I can go into a froth of indignation and allow Satan free reign in our hearts if we chose. We can ape the ugliest manifestations of self-righteousness and rage and act out those things ourselves. We can, in short, let the evil on our doorstep invade our own hearts and take us over.

We can try to use the devil’s weapons to defeat the devil. We can allow this evil to make us Satan’s unwitting but very effective disciples in turning people away from Christ by the displays of hate that we make in our condemnation and anger.

Or, we can look at this as an opportunity for conversion; first of ourselves, then of others. The first reaction to having your face shoved into the toilet of sin should be to eschew your own sins. Don’t inhale the evil that is forced on you; spit out the evil in your own heart.

Instead of praying at these people in that clinic and wishing them to hell, we need to pray for them and genuinely wish them to heaven. We need to confess our own sins, wash ourselves clean and then begin the process of doing everything we can to convert them.

People who do this evil are still people, and they can be redeemed. That does not mean that we collude in their evil by pretending that it doesn’t exist or that it doesn’t matter. We say the truth of it, but then we say the second and most important truth, that they can change. We need to be about the work of their redemption.

If you trust and love Jesus, if you yield yourself up to Him without reservation, He will take every bad thing that happens to you and turn it to good. You may not see the good, but you can know without doubt that it will happen.

That fact sustained me when I was diagnosed with cancer. It informs my reaction to the abortion clinic on my parish doorstep now.

My fellow parishioners and I need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this great opportunity to combat evil by using the weapons of the Lord, which St Paul tells us are faith, truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, the Holy Spirit and Scripture. We can turn this situation on its head entirely if we do that.

They may end up closing the clinic if we love them as Christ has loved us, from death to life.