The theme for this year’s March for Life in Washington, DC is “The Power of One”. It’s an interesting theme to ponder considering that over 500,000 people, the majority of whom are youth and young adults, are expected to descend on the nation’s capital for the 44th annual March on January 27th.
Many years ago, there was a delightful children’s book called “If Everybody Did”, complete with endearing cartoon illustrations that spoke volumes beyond the simple text. The story unfolded by depicting the consequences of unfortunate happenings. For example: One person might spill their milk, but what would happen if everybody did? What if one person tracked mud on the floor, and what would happen if everybody did? How about if someone drops a piece of litter in the park? It’s not hard to picture “if everybody did”. Things can go from bad to worse pretty quickly. But then the story takes an interesting turn: if one person cleans up their spills, if one person wipes their feet, if one person throws their trash in the trashcan, etc., suddenly everybody does! Goodness and happiness blossom, peace and order reign. While the little book was surely intended to teach an important lesson to children and did so in an effective and memorable way, it also illustrates the “power of one” in regard to cherishing God’s gift of Life.
What if one kind person takes the time to help a frightened pregnant teenager to choose life? What if one person gives a hand up to a mother struggling with rent, food, and diapers? What if one person is moved by the lone man praying the rosary on the sidewalk and doesn’t go through with their abortion? What if one homily on Sunday helps a post-abortive woman to have the courage to go to confession and find healing? What if one doctor caring for a family who’s received an adverse prenatal diagnosis, encourages them not to give in to the pressure to “terminate” the pregnancy and provides every possible avenue of authentic healthcare? What if one person drives their homebound neighbor to Mass each week? What if one class of seventh graders spends time with the elderly at a local nursing home?
The Catholic Church has been on the front lines of the pro-life movement for decades. We take seriously the fundamental call to be People of Life. Consider how even one heart moved by mercy, can inspire an outpouring of love. In the 44 years since Roe v. Wade became law, how many hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes have been established all over the country? Consider the countless women and men wounded by abortion who have found forgiveness and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Church’s ministry of Project Rachel. Think of the many medical professionals who serve Life by truly caring for their patients each day in their life-saving work. How about the teens that invite their friends to the March for Life each year?
While we often use the phrase “the pro-life movement”, it is much more than that. The sacredness of every human life is fundamental to who we are as Catholics. The dignity of the human person goes to the very heart of all people created in the image and likeness of God. Saint John Paul II speaks eloquently about this in Evangelium Vitae:
“Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God….The Church knows that this Gospel of life, which she has received from her Lord, has a profound and persuasive echo in the heart of every person – believer and non-believer alike – because it marvelously fulfils all the heart’s expectations while infinitely surpassing them. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree” (n. 2).
This is why we march. Whether we participate in the March for Life physically or virtually, we can all offer our prayers and sacrifices to God. Through acts of faith, hope, and love, we can, and must, proclaim the Gospel of Life in each and every circumstance and encounter the Lord places before us. The lies of the world and their tragic consequences so sadly manifested in those who have believed these falsehoods need to be overcome. Let us always remember that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. St. John Paul in fact points this out directly when he says, “…Rejection of human life, in whatever form that rejection takes, is really a rejection of Christ” (Evangelium vitae, n. 104). Thus, when we choose life, we choose Christ. On which side will we be on the day of judgment?
It only takes one soul, inspired by God to love, protect, and defend life. It only takes one to believe with all their heart that every life matters. It only takes one to stand up and proclaim that every life is worth living. And it won’t be long before we can say with gratitude, “Everybody did”.