True Love And Human Dignity

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In the Second Reading today, St Paul presents love as the centerpiece of all charisms. Speaking in tongues, prophecy, the gift of insight, and the exercise of extraordinary faith are great and desirable gifts, but they amount to nothing without love. Even human generosity, without love, can be prideful, contemptuous and condescending towards the beneficiaries. Love is full of forbearance, overlooking the imperfections of the beloved. It is trusting and believes in the essential goodness of the human person. Love is persevering and full of hope.

But for many people today, love is all about “what is in it for me?” And for many others, love is synonymous with pleasure, so long as it feels good. However, true love transcends the realm of feelings and pleasure. True love means devotion to the beloved for his/her own sake and learning to respect the otherness of the other person, even when it hurts. Mother Teresa once said: “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” True love is not a passive thing, a feeling that sweeps you off your feet and takes control of your life. True love is active self-giving – patient, kind, and forgiving. It may feel good sometimes but that is not essential. Come to think of it, there is no nice feeling about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross – the greatest act of love.

Consider a mother looking after her sick child. She stays up all night, she watches, she worries, she cleans and feeds and comforts. She gives her all! And how does she feel about it all? Absolutely exhausted! But she wouldn’t have it any other way. Think of soldiers fighting for their country. How does it feel marching through desert and snow under enemy fire, night after night? How good does it feel to be on duty for hours and hours under intolerable conditions? Surely, feelings have nothing to do with it. Love means giving ourselves to God and to others, regardless of feelings. It means being faithful to what is true and right, no matter how we feel. True love means desiring and working for the good of the beloved. It means accepting others as they are and not as we would want them to be.

Dear friends, the Lord says to us today in the First Reading: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you came to birth I consecrated you” (Jer.1:5). Thus, none of us is here just by chance, as the Darwinists want us to believe. None of us is an unwanted mistake, as the pro-abortionists would like us to believe. None of us is just a toy out of the production line, as the human cloning advocates and artificial reproduction advocates seem to propose. Everyone is a beloved, desired child of God and our existence comes directly from him. The Parliament cannot give rights to people but can only safeguard the rights inherent in human nature, bestowed by the Creator. It is illogical to think that a man-made institution would determine the rights of those who made it in the first place. No one denies that unplanned pregnancies can cause pain, anguish, and hardship to those concerned, which is why we must always show true compassion. But that does not change the reality that every human life is precious and purposeful in God’s eyes.

Everyone, before conception, has been consecrated by God for a unique mission. Thus, everyone deserves the chance to live and to pursue their own God-given vocation. The sanctity, integrity, and inviolability of human life always needs to be upheld , whether born or unborn, young or old, sick or healthy, tall or short, fat or thin – everyone, without exception, deserves that most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life. And to defend this most basic of human rights should be for us a sacred duty, it should be an article of faith.

The right to life is not a matter of the convenience of those involved in the conception. The right to life cannot be subject to the whims of scientists and politicians. God alone is the giver of life, and no one else has the authority to take it. This is at the heart of our Christian faith. When a culture loses sight of the source of human life and dignity, it tends to value human beings by externals: according to how much money they can make, or how athletic they are, or how beautiful they are. When that happens, people start to question the meaning of their own existence, and they start to give in to uncertainty, stress, discouragement, and even depression. No one is immune to this, and that is why we always need to stay close to Jesus and remain faithful to the teachings of the Church. Otherwise, we risk drifting into the mindset that sees the purpose of life as the achievement of material comfort, popularity or pleasures. Our life on earth is a mission back to God, the source of true love and lasting satisfaction.

Today, we who know the true source of human dignity are called to do something about it. Like Jeremiah, God has sent us into this world not just to survive in it, but to transform it. With our example, our words, and our creative and active efforts to promote true human dignity, we can and must spread God’s light. It may be hard and uncomfortable at times, but the Lord promises us through Jeremiah: “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer. 1:9).

May the Lord help us to understand the true meaning of love and give us the courage to always protect the life and dignity of every human person! Amen!