Homily of Bishop Jaime Soto from the 2022 Mass of Reparation for the Sin of Abortion

The following bilingual homily was delivered on Friday, January 21, 2022 by Bishop Jaime Soto at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento at the Mass of Reparation and Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children for the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

La misión encomendada a los primeros discípulos todavía lleva validez para los discípulos hoy en día.  En el evangelio, el Señor Jesús los mandó a predicar y expulsar a los demonios.  Mis hermanos, el Señor Jesús vive y manda a ustedes y a este servidor con la misma tarea: anunciar el evangelio de la vida y expulsar a los demonios.

Mañana es el lamentable aniversario del juicio de la corta suprema legalizando la práctica del aborto en estos Estados Unidos.  Por cuarenta y nueve años hemos estado luchando para poner fin a la práctica inmoral de abortar vidas inocentes en el seno materno.  Estamos en un momento histórico porque la corte suprema ya está considerando ahora un nuevo caso con que existe la posibilidad de anular la decisión anterior y volver esta nación a sus principios fundamentales de defender los derechos inalienables de la vida, la libertad y la búsqueda de la felicidad para toda persona, especialmente para los más vulnerables.  

Por eso, sea justo y necesario que los discípulos de Jesús vuelvan a comprender la misión principal de nuestra vocación cristiana.  No pensemos solo en los aspectos legales o políticos de este grave asunto.  Seamos conscientes del mandato de Cristo:  predicar el evangelio y expulsar a los demonios.  Ojala, la corte suprema anule la previa decisión de Roe v Wade y ponga fin a este legado trágico.  Todavía, quedará la labor de edificar una cultura de vida y recrear una sociedad sin el aborto, una sociedad donde toda vida sea respetada y apoyada.  

Por eso el mandato de Jesús en evangelio es todavía muy urgente, anunciar el evangelio y expulsar todo demonio.  La expulsión de demonios solo se hace con las obras buenas, las obras de misericordia.  La caridad vence al odio.  La caridad remedia a la soledad.  La caridad siempre da vida.

El Señor Jesús mencionó otra tarea, sin que uno no puede cumplir con las otras dos.  Jesús llamó a los discípulos para que quedaran con él.  En este momento sea esencial que estemos siempre en comunión con Jesús y que toda palabra y toda obra sea en el nombre de Jesucristo, nuestro Señor.

We heard a poignant, dramatic story of the unexpected encounter between two rivals, King Saul and David (I Sam. 24.3-21).  King Saul was deeply jealous of David.  The young David’s many victories in battle, beginning with the killing of Goliath, had embittered the heart of King Saul.  He feared that David would seize the kingdom from him.  King Saul had assembled an army of three thousand men to seek out and kill David.  

The reading recounts an unexpected encounter between the hunter and hunted.  The powerful King Saul had wandered into a cave unprotected and very vulnerable, not knowing that David and his men were hidden in the dark recesses of the cave.  David’s men saw this as a fortunate opportunity to kill their enemy.  David resisted.  His conscience restrained his ambition.

After the unsuspecting King Saul left the cave, David called out to him from a distance to reveal the act of mercy that had spared the life of his rival.  David spoke from the heart of his great reverence for the King, not as a rival but as a child of God, the Lord’s anointed.  King Saul, with tears, acknowledged David’s great virtue and recognized his own foolish jealousy.  The King, with sad resignation, now knew that God’s favor rested with his rival and that David would soon be king of Israel.

The Old Testament story provides for us a sobering parable as we mark the heartbreaking anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision, legalizing the practice of abortion in the United States.  Since that time – 49 years – a prolonged rivalry has ensued over the practice of aborting the lives of young children in the wombs of their mothers.  After all this time, the controversy has not abated, the reasons and the rhetoric for this practice have evolved, except for one small, singular, undeniable fact:  The life of a child of God is involved, the existence of one of God’s anointed.

Like David’s own soldiers, many today would justify abortion as a fortunate solution to an unforeseen and unwanted problem, a necessary means of asserting control of one’s own life.  For many of us, the words of young David are our own, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him, for he is the LORD’s anointed.” David knew that neither Saul’s life nor even his own, was his to control.

David would be king only because God had chosen him.  While tending the sheep of his family, the young David was called by God to shepherd a whole nation.  On that fateful day, when his angry rival was so vulnerable, David trusted in the Lord and chose not to take with his own hands what was not his to take.  He acted reverently and justly in that critical moment entrusting his future to the Lord.  He said aloud, “The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you.  May he see this, and take my part, and grant me justice beyond your reach!”

The Supreme Court is now deliberating the most recent legal challenge to the ill-contrived decision of 1973.  There is much hope that their judgment will reverse Roe v. Wade or at least protect more young innocent lives from the callous threat of abortion.  As momentous as their judgment could be, we should not lose sight of the judgment under which David acted with such mercy on that decisive day when Saul wandered in the cave.  “The Lord will be the judge.”  He will be the final judge.  Everyone will come before the judgment seat and be judge by their deeds.  It is the Lord’s wise and merciful judgment under which we must consider our own pursuits and purposes for the cause of life.

Like David, understand that the Lord has chosen us to act with reverence for the gift of life.  Understand that he is the giver and sustainer of all life.  We have been chosen to cooperate with his wisdom and mercy so that all may know the fullness of life.  He alone knows the course of each life and will bring about his loving design for humanity despite our own foolishness and folly.  Guard against the temptations of pride and anger.  Resist the vain illusion that we can determine our own fate and that of others.  In this historic moment, with the humility of Jesus, let us keep our hearts and focus our endeavors on reverencing the dignity of human life and doing all the good works of mercy God enables us to do.  It was the goodness and mercy of David’s actions that turned Saul’s heart to repentance and remorse, to recognize that his anger would not determine the future but only God’s wisdom and mercy.

The senseless rage and anger of Saul echoes in much of the furious and hostile demagoguery attempting to rattle the court and silence the hopeful aspirations for an America without abortion.  This should not be met in kind believing that we ourselves, we alone, can decide the future.  Nor should we presume that this is a weakness.  David was surrounded by only a small band of followers, hidden in a cave.  His small act of quiet mercy was made powerful by the hand of God, against whom not even Saul’s three thousand men could resist.  So is our present moment.  May the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians inspire both our words and our actions at this fateful time in our history.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”  (I Cor. 13.4-8)

Together, let us imagine an America, a California, without abortion.  Let us imagine “A California that proclaims the inherent dignity of every woman, man, and child, born and unborn, and promotes the common good and human flourishing of all people.”  Let us resolve together to accompany the most vulnerable women, children, and families in our state, proclaiming the dignity of every human life through word and action. (CCC statement, 1-20-2022)