'LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO A BABY WHOSE LIFE YOUR JOY HELPED SAVE'
During Lent I was standing outside the abortion centre towards the end of our 40 Days for Life Campaign. A regular volunteer parked his car and came to join me. 'How many babies have been saved so far?' he asked. '9 that we know of' I replied, and was just about to add 'It's been a fantastic campaign' when he cut in with a disappointed voice 'Well I suppose that's better than nothing'.
Sometimes even we pro-lifers need reminding of the unrepeatable value of every single human life and consequently the inestimable value of pro-life work. If we aren't careful we can let it become just a daily chore or a weekly duty. That's not to say it isn't sometimes, if not often, hard going, dull, challenging or any other number of slightly negative adjectives, but it is also so much more than this. To be part of saving the lives of tiny babies is also a privilege and it should be a joy. It is this true joy founded in Christ that is contagious. It is the catching force for souls weighed down with the weariness of life.
'Be glad in the Lord and rejoice you righteous. Shout for joy all you who are upright in heart': Psalm 32:11
I remember speaking to a friend who had attended March for Life UK. She told me that she had been feeling depressed for quite some time but going to the march had really opened up her heart. She had always opposed abortion, she recognised the incredible value of each and every baby and yet, she told me, she failed to appreciate the value of her own life. She rejoiced in other people's lives but not in hers. Coming to March for Life and seeing so many people celebrating life with such joy suddenly helped her realise that the gift of her own life was worth celebrating too.
If you came to the March for Life last year let me introduce you to a baby whose life your joy helped save. We have recounted before how a young woman was in Birmingham on that day, she was pregnant and she too was struggling with depression. As she went about her shopping her mind turned to thoughts of abortion. As she neared the city centre she was met by hundreds and hundreds of joyful pro-lifers forming the March for Life. They were waving flags, smiling and singing. The woman also saw the pro-abortion group shouting angrily, swearing, with abusive signs. At that instant she knew which side she wanted to be on - the side of joy. Her decision was made that day and she never faltered.
I had the great blessing of meeting that young woman today and holding her beautiful baby boy in my arms. As he smiled up at me his young mother reminded me of the day she decided to choose life. It wasn't clever arguments that won her over (as much as we may sometimes need these), it wasn't even offers of practical help (although this is a necessity for any true pro-lifer), neither was it hearing about her baby's development, it was simply the catching force of joy!
I spoke with an Indian doctor recently who told me that when she was first working as a GP in the UK, upon a pregnant woman visiting her surgery, she would always smile and say 'Congratulations!'. Very quickly a senior member of staff took her aside, 'We don't say that here' he told her, 'We ask the woman - Is it planned?'
When I last spoke to a woman who had an abortion booked I congratulated her on her baby & told her a child is always a blessing. She told me I was the first person who'd said anything positive to her about her pregnancy. 'Nobody else seems happy about this baby' she told me 'Thank you for being positive.' She went on to choose life for her little one.
Never underestimate the power of joy as you give the witness of your life to others. Whether it be outside an abortion centre, in a doctor's surgery, in an office or university, the home or the city centre, remember that 'God made us for joy. God is joy and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us' - Pope St John Paul II.