Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Homily from the 2014 Mass for the Unborn

Published January 23, 2014

The 2014 Mass for the Unborn was celebrated Jan. 22 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta. Following is the homily given by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

We all seem to have “gone green” with all that this phrase currently implies; people today have become much more aware of the preciousness of the earth and its limited resources than perhaps any other generation before us. You young people are very much attuned to the importance of conservation and protecting the environment that we share as residents of planet earth. You have grown up in a world that now frowns on wasteful disregard for the things of nature. The people of the world are growing much more concerned about preserving the vital natural elements of our shared home.

There are nowadays many programs available for the careful disposal of toxic materials – batteries, light bulbs, and chemicals, and worn-out computer components. Stores are encouraging us to abandon our use of plastic bags and to purchase foods that are grown without chemicals or drugs. We are urged to use articles that are more natural and with fewer engineered substances. There is an organized and widespread effort to respect the natural things of this earth because they must last us throughout our own lifetime and then be passed on to other generations.

Recycling has become an ordinary way of life for most of us so that many materials can have multiple uses and our landfills are not exhausted by materials that be used over again. The welfare of the animal kingdom has touched the hearts of many people. Images of cute baby seals, pandas, polar bears, and even wolves, remind us of the delicate balance that exists in nature as the demise of even one species has a direct negative impact on other animals as well as plants and fauna. Without enough honeybees, our fruits and vegetables will not be able to flower and produce a harvest.

All of these concerns are important and wonderful, but what about the human race itself?  We who inhabit this shared planet and are entrusted with its care are also a part of nature – an indispensable part of God’s creation. Our future is at least as important as the other parts of God’s creation – if not more so. Human life itself is vital to the life of the planet and each human life has value because our lives reflect God’s image, which is imprinted on each human life in a way that can never be removed, denied or replaced.

Yet strangely, the widespread heightened emphasis on preserving nature has not resulted in a halt to the destruction of human life – both within the womb and sometimes even at life’s ending. We who have grown accustomed to criticize the wasteful habits of the past have not yet seen fit to stop the wasteful destruction of human life in its most vulnerable moments and among those whose lives are fragile because of poverty, imprisonment, sickness or those just waiting to be born.

Our society still too frequently treats the human person as mere disposable waste exhibiting the same nonchalant attitudes that we now rebuke for being unaware of the fragility of the planet that we inhabit. Human life, as Pope Francis has said, is too often treated as a mere throw away commodity.

Even as we have taken serious and very important actions to protect the other elements of nature, we have too often ignored the importance of the dignity of the human person whom God placed over all of creation. It is very important to recycle, to protect endangered species, to conserve energy, to work to preserve the resources of our planet. However, no resource of God’s creation is as important as the human being whom God fashioned to reflect His own image and to be the guardian of all that God had created. No human life ever fails to attain or loses that image and nobility from the first moments of its existence within the womb to its closing breath at the moment of death.

You young people are the Davids of our generation confronting the Goliath of death that urges us to waste the most precious gift of our human dignity. As the youthful David set aside the armor and shield that Saul offered him, as this young man went against the strength and cunny of Goliath with only a sling-shot and a few stones, so many of you might now think that the deck is stacked against you. However, the Lord will work with you, accompany you, and bring victory through you. Even as we continue to work to care for the earth, we must never allow the waste of our human dignity as a forgotten element of the creation that God deemed as very good.