The following bilingual homily was delivered 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 on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
El Señor Jesús subió un monte y llamó a doce discípulos con tres motivos en mente: se quedaran con él, fueran enviados a predicar el reino de Dios, y recibieran autoridad para expulsar a los demonios. (Mc. 3.13-19) Estar reunidos con Cristo sobre un monte, indicaba su participación en la misión de Jesús incluyendo cuando el Señor Jesús caminó hacia el monte Calvario. Cada discípulo es llamado por Jesús desde la cruz a quedarse con Cristo, predicar Cristo, y con Cristo expulsar de la vida humana al demonio y toda la influencia del mal.
El evangelio de hoy nos ayuda entender nuestra respuesta cristiana en este día de reparación por el pecado del aborto. En este día, hace cuarenta ocho años, la Corte Suprema de esta nación legalizó la práctica del aborto. Desde entonces, el pecado de aborto ha sido una vergonzosa plaga en este país. La práctica de aborto por tantos años ha empobrecido nuestra comunidad por el robo de tantas vidas. Ha lastimado el corazón de muchas mujeres y familias. Tristemente, mucha gente, muchos cristianos han sido anestesiados por una cultura de descarte. Así, quedan indiferentes.
Por eso, tomemos en serio la llamada de Cristo, una llamada que nos llega desde la cruz, una llamada llena de misericordia y sabiduría. En comunión con Jesús hagamos los sacrificios para ser profetas de la nueva alianza mencionada en la primera lectura (Heb. 8.6-13). La misericordia y la sabiduría de Cristo ya están escritos en nuestros corazones. Seamos mensajeros del evangelio de la vida y la esperanza para que cada mujer y su familia reconozca el don de la vida y el gozo del evangelio.
Jesus is our great high priest, the mediator of a new covenant. On the cross, he stretched out his hands between heaven and earth as an everlasting sign of the covenant spoken about in the first reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 8.6-13). “I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” In that agonizing moment on the cross Jesus revealed himself as their merciful God and he offered himself to the Father as the first acceptable offering of the people whom he had made his own.
We can approach the throne of grace and mercy because Jesus, our high priest and holy mediator, humbled himself. He was obedient even unto death, death on a cross. God’s law was the only thing on his mind and was written in his most Sacred Heart, pierced by the soldier’s lance.
Lovingly and sorrowfully contemplating the Crucified Christ we understand the apostolic summons given to those first disciples and to us in the gospel today. Jesus went up on a mountain, as he would ultimately do while bearing the cross up to Calvary. There on that mountain, he summoned his apostles. The gospel said that he had three motives when he summoned them: They might be with him. He would send them forth to preach. They would have authority to drive out demons. (Mk. 3.13-19) These three motives for which Christ called his apostles speak to the apostolic character of the Church. I, my brother bishops and priests, carry on the Apostolic office given to those who were first summoned to that mountain. This office is to serve and ensure the apostolic nature of the whole Church. All of us as baptized people have been called by Christ. All of us, in communion with one another, communicate the one gospel of Christ, the gospel of life and hope for all humanity. (CCC, 857)
The apostolic summons is a call to Calvary where we are one with Christ, proclaim his mercy and truth, and where the demons of death and sin are cast out. In this way, we share in the one baptismal priesthood of Christ, offering ourselves to the Father so that the glory of mercy and wisdom may be known to all. The first motive for which the Lord Jesus called us was so that we might be with him. With Christ we become the people of the New Covenant sharing the one mind and heart of Christ upon which is found the fullness of God’s mercy and truth.
We offer today’s Mass for the remission of sins on the tearful anniversary when the sin of abortion was legalized by the US Supreme Court on January 22nd, 1973. We can only dare to do so because we have a great high priest who did not hesitate to become one with us and humbly took upon himself our sins. We stand in the shadow of his cross as we offer ourselves with Christ for the remission of sins. On this day, we ask that the Lord’s acceptable offering might purify our own sacrifices so that we, together with all Americans, may be freed from the scourge of abortion.
Our prayers, penance, and works of mercy are inspired by the Lord’s priestly sacrifice on the cross. They allow us to share in his saving sacrifice on the cross. There is a communion of mercy and truth that echoes the priestly cries and supplications of the crucified Christ.
With Christ we also unite ourselves with the sorrow and suffering of all those plagued by the violence of abortion, the aborted children whose lives are torn away from us, their mothers who bear the scars of loss and emptiness, the blinded complicity of medical professionals, and the hardened indifference of political leadership. The bantered boast of freedom is a bitter deceit that clouds our conscience and blurs our judgment. At the heart of all the false justifications is a lack of imagination. We can and must imagine a world without abortion.
The truth and mercy proclaimed by the Lord Jesus on the cross gives us the freedom to hope and to imagine a society where every mother in need is accompanied, encouraged and supported so that they and their children may know the joy to be found in the communion of life. Let our personal freedom always be offered for the sake of others as Christ offered himself for us.
In the coming weeks and months there looms the chilling possibility that the Congress and the new Administration will exclude the Hyde amendment from the federal budget. The Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds for abortion. Since 1980 this has been included in every budget. There is a threatening initiative to remove the Hyde amendment. This will only further tangle our nation in the web of the throw-away culture, the culture of death, all because of a lack of imagination and hope.
Our freedom comes with the responsibility to cast out this demon that will only ensnare more women into the bleak shadows of abortion centers and cast more children aside. Imitating Christ, the high priest, may our sacrifices bring the charity and companionship that finds a new path to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. With Christ we may join those first disciples in being artisans of new covenant of life and dignity where the beauty, mercy and wisdom of God is written on our hearts and in the laws of our land.