By Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan
“Each of Us Is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation” is the theme selected for October 2014 Respect Life Month. Each year our Catholic Church in the United States sets aside the month of October to reflect on life issues and to promote and pray for a greater respect for human life in our country. This year’s theme is taken from a speech of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in His own image, destined to live forever and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
The Holy Father’s description of human life as “masterpieces of God’s creation” reminds us of the following truths: 1) Each human life comes from God. 2) Each human life is created by God. 3) Each human life is connected to God. 4) Each human life reflects God.
Notice the verbs in each of the above statements. I chose them deliberately to describe the nature of God in relation with and to human life — God is the Creator of human life; the Origin of human life; human life is connected to God and reflects God. All of which God does out of love and with divine purpose. Human life is from God; is fashioned by God, is joined to God, and reveals God. Because of its connection to God, each human life is of great worth and deserves reverence and respect.
There are too many situations in our society in which human life festers and is pushed to the edges. I think of immigrant families torn apart by deportation; those who cannot find affordable housing; children pre-diagnosed with Down Syndrome and not given the chance to live outside their mother’s wombs; the elderly who fear they are becoming a burden to their families; the victims of terrorism and senseless acts of killing. This is not an exhaustive list of the increasing examples of disrespect for life that surrounds us and challenges us. Are we moved by the suffering of those without proper shelter? Do we seek to alleviate the fear women face when dealing with unexpected pregnancies? Do we visit the elderly from our families and in our communities?
As we consider the theme “Each of Us Is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation” does this affect how we understand our very lives and the lives of others? Each one of us is a unique creation made so by God from whose being comes human life. Not one human life is the same as another life because of the precision of the Creator who painstakingly knits us in our mothers’ wombs. We are sisters and brothers to one another because our humanity is from the same divine source. Our prayer for respect for all human life is urgent as the attacks and disrespect for human life continue to escalate. Our understanding that all human life created in the image and likeness of God, as the Church teaches, needs to inform our values, choices, speech and thinking. During Respect Life Month especially, and throughout the year, I encourage you to promote greater respect for the sanctity and dignity of each human life which is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation.