by Deacon Stephen Bowling
It seems to me that respect is something that one values . . . or not. I do not see how respect can in any way be ambiguous or shaded with layers of grey.
Respect as we experience it is a binary concept – it’s either a “yes” or a “no,” a positive or a negative, either you have it or you don’t. Respect is either something we carry with us in our hearts . . . or it is simply not within us at all.
Our support of individual human life in all its forms – from conception to natural death – demands that the idea of “respect” be an integral part of us. The outlook of “all people deserve respect” is something that our parents (hopefully) tried to instill in us from the very earliest days. Its potentiality certainly is present within all of us at our very beginning . . . but like any living thing, it must be nurtured and cared for in order to grow and flourish.
The idea of “respect for life” is, just like Jesus Christ, both fully human and fully divine simultaneously. It is an expression of God’s creative power in the world, as well as a principle that should propel us forward as a society towards an ever-greater tomorrow.
By respecting life and making it as widespread an attitude as possible, we further facilitate the unfolding of God’s plan in this world. By respecting life, we act towards each other in the way most fulfilling to each of our hopes and dreams. Even within the paradox of difficulty which often accompanies an unexpected pregnancy, choosing life is ultimately an affirmation of God’s love for us in this created existence – and also an opportunity for us all to concretely express our own love for each other by assisting those in need.
As “Respect Life Month” comes upon us once more, let us all ask ourselves “what have I done lately to foster a respect for life with those I encounter?” I think we will find that by focusing once again upon the question, we will in fact strengthen the Holy Spirit in our hearts showering it down upon that “garden of respect” we all keep alive within us, helping it to bloom brightly once more.