We all know who Saint Paul is ... the Apostle to the Gentiles, a great teacher and preacher, a champion of the message of the gospel, a man who attempted to be all things to all people - and a convert. Today the Church celebrates his conversion. Paul was a good man, intense in faith and opinion, unreserved in his willingness to lay all on the line for that in which he believed, but a man whose intensity was so rock solid that he could not and would not be moved. The story of his conversion is a story of eye opening revelation (which was manifest in temporary blindness), a strength that was rooted in a humility that he was unaccustomed to, and a change of heart and direction in his life that was difficult to accept for everyone who knew of Paul. But when Saul of Tarsus encountered the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus, he emerged as Paul, the persecutor turned champion, the zealot of Judaism who became the herald of the gospel of Christ. This conversion, brought about by God, is worthy of celebration for it led to one of the strong pillars upon which this Church was built.
Today there were hundreds of thousands of people of all faiths and persuasions who gathered in our nation's capitol to bear witness to a travesty of human justice perpetuated by the law of the land. The 40th annual March for Life took place today, and according to estimates given on the live coverage on EWTN, there were approximately 500,000 people marching in extremely cold weather conditions. I watched all three major networks this evening and I only heard the March mentioned in passing by NBC which said that "thousands marched". So I'll accept EWTN's numbers, and from watching the unending march up to the Supreme Court Building, I am inclined to agree with the vast numbers. I salute the men and women, young and old, people of all backgrounds, persuasions and faiths, who came to bear witness to the sanctity of all human life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
This decision of the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, making abortion the law of the land in this country and one of our "rights", joined the ranks of a number of misguided and wrong judgements over the years. Probably, in light of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the Dred-Scott decision of the court in 1857 comes to mind. In that decision, briefly, black people were judged to not be citizens of the United States and if slaves to be less than human and undeserving of rights under the law. They were seen to be property, and thus a commodity. This affront to the basic human dignity afforded to one created in the image and likeness of God is like the affront given to those who have no voice and no one to stand up for them, those unborn who are seen as a commodity at worst or as an inconvenience at best.
For forty years we have been striving to have this law overturned in one way or another. We make strides, but we continue to lose the struggle, along with nearly 54 million unborn children put to death legally in this nation. What must we do?
One thing that is essential for anything of consequence to take place is the need for a CONVERSION, a change of heart, a reversal of direction in the thoughts and mind of our leaders and the people of this land. It will require a humbling of our self centred pride and an openness to the truth revealed by God. It will require transformation, repentance and forgiveness, prayer and trust in God's message of love.
Will everyone hear and accept the message? Did they with Paul? No. Will we need to be about the work of getting out the message as did Paul? Will we need to accept that in a pluralistic society we face sometimes unbelievable challenges, as did Paul? Yes. And will conversions happen? Absolutely, but unfortunately all too slowly. Strengthen us, lord, along the way.