I am in the midst of my third year now of working with Project Rachel, our archdiocese’s outreach to men and women hurt and wounded by abortion. I have witnessed God’s healing power at work through this important pro-life ministry, and my personal commitment to the pro-life movement has been strengthened by seeing the anguish and pain that these women have suffered because they fell for the lie that abortion was the safe, easy, painless solution to their problem.
In some ways, I feel that being involved so deeply these last few years has allowed me to see how truly pro-life God is and how He has interwoven His pro-life message throughout Scripture. Passages that I have read, studied, and prayed hundreds of times now jump out at me with new pro-life insights, and I feel a deep calling from God to share some of them with you.
My first encounter with the Lord in which I encountered a strong pro-life message was the passage of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:3-11). As I was praying and trying to imagine myself in the story, I felt something different. Every time I had read this passage before or read a commentary about this story from John’s Gospel, I assumed that the woman caught in adultery was a complete stranger to Jesus. But in my prayer that day, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that Jesus had met this woman before.
I began to realize that all the Gospels refer to the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners as part of his ministry. It is, therefore, possible that this woman had dined with Jesus the night before and that perhaps her friendship with Jesus made her all the more the target of the Scribes and Pharisees. I began to feel a deep companionship with the woman, for how many times have I sinned despite knowing better, and I know that sometimes makes it harder to confess one’s sins.
A great sense of relief came over me when, with this new insight, I saw that Jesus forgave her even though she should have known better. I believe that this passage of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is an important pro-life passage for the Church and the world today because many of the women who have had or will have an abortion are sitting in our pews every Sunday.
These are women (with their parents, friends, and fathers of their children) who profess to be pro-life, or at one time did, only to find themselves under horrendous pressure and fear and choose abortion. If we wish to bring healing to their broken lives we must help them trust in God and His Church’s forgiveness without condemnation. I try to go out of my way to allow parents who have a child out of wedlock to know that they are welcome at Church, for we are all sinners.
The Second Passage
The second passage that the Holy Spirit led me to see in a different light was the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis, Chapter 22. I have always found it amazing that Abraham seemed to put up no struggle with God’s demand to sacrifice his son Isaac. The author of Genesis does not show any reluctance on Abraham’s part, sadness yes, but even in his sadness there is acceptance, trust and obedience.
As I was praying with this passage, the Holy Spirit had me recall some of my Old Testament studies. The account of Abraham and Isaac, in which God provided a ram as substitute for the life of Isaac, resulted in Abraham’s naming the place Yahweh-yireh “The Lord will Provide” (Gn 22:13–14). There is a consistent picture in Scripture of God as helper and provider, and of our obligation to be like him in that respect. True happiness comes only when we are able to love as God, the creator of life, loves (unconditionally and without end).
The Third Pro-life Passage
The third pro-life passage I wish to share with you is the story of David and Bathsheba in the Second Book of Samuel. As this part of David’s story begins, he is so caught up in his sinful lust for Bathsheba that he has no respect for life. He does not hesitate to send Uriah to his death in order to maintain his reputation, to have Bathsheba for his wife, and to live a life with no repercussions for this misuse of his sexuality.
Eventually, though, the prophet Nathan revealed to David that the Lord knew about his sins. Then, in the troubling passage of 2 Samuel 12:13-14, we hear: “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin. You shall not die, but since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.”
Knowing in the light of the Gospels that God never causes evil, we can begin to understand this passage from David’s point of view. David saw his sin (his adultery and murder) as the cause of his child’s death. No matter how much David wished that he could go back and undo his evil choices he could not and, therefore, he would have to face the consequences of His sin every time he thought of the child he had lost.
Many women and men who have had or participated in abortions must in some way feel like King David must have felt in this passage. Their choice resulted in the death of their child and, mysteriously, God is willing to forgive them but He does not restore their child to life again. They therefore must live with consequences of their sinful choice.
Yet David and Bathsheba can be seen as role models for men and women who have chosen abortions, for following their reconciliation with God they become great supporters of life. We see this in the story of David and Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:5-14. As David and his entourage are fleeing David’s rebellious son Absalom, David finds himself being followed at a distance by a Shimei who keeps hurling insults at him. David who had no qualms or second thoughts about killing Uriah now prevents his men from killing Shimei. We see that David’s respect for life has grown.
The ultimate sign for me of David’s spiritual growth is that he weeps at the death of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel 18:19 to 2 Samuel 19:1. Even though Absalom had sought David’s life, had forced David to flee his own castle, and much more, David is saddened because Absalom was never given the chance to repent as he had been.
It is my hope that these three short Scripture reflections will help you to reaffirm your commitment to life. We have a long road ahead until our government leaders affirm the value of life as David did at the end of his reign. There is much work to be done to make the world see that children (especially those in petri dishes and test tubes) are persons with human dignity, and we have many in our pews and outside our church doors to tell about God’s healing and forgiving love. Lord, we pray that you will open the minds of more people to your message of life contained in your holy Scriptures.
FATHER PASTORIUS is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.