Sunday’s First Reading (Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24):
‘Death was not God’s doing,
he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living.
To be – for this he created all;
the world’s created things have health in them,
in them no fatal poison can be found,
and Hades holds no power on earth;
for virtue is undying.
Yet God did make man imperishable,
he made him in the image of his own nature;
it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world,
as those who are his partners will discover.’
Let’s focus on the first two lines of this scripture passage. Read them again and think about our world today. Consider the unnecessary death of the innocent in the womb, and the increased incidence of deaths among vulnerable and elderly people following the introduction of assisted suicide. Consider the unnecessary deaths of people at times of war or at the hands of extremist groups like ISIS. All of this death is unnecessary and God - as set out in today’s passage - takes no pleasure in it.
And while God ‘did make man imperishable’, something which would become visible in the person of Jesus Christ when he rose from the dead on the third day, we are still called to protect life and protect the most vulnerable.
As death was not God’s doing don’t you think we should be fighting hard to ensure we don’t allow unnecessary death to creep further and further into society? Our society generally makes the killing of another person illegal, and thankfully so. Yet this is qualified. For example, it is not illegal to kill an unborn child in the womb in certain circumstances. And increasingly, particularly in parts of Europe, it is becoming legal to kill those who are said to want to end their own lives through the process of assisted suicide. This, of course, is putting more and more pressure on elderly and vulnerable people to consider whether they too should die in order to alleviate the burden of those caring for them or indeed the burden supposedly carried by wider society.
But we must fight against this tide of death as best we can. Death is not from God. It is from Satan. And that alone should be enough to want to give it our best shot. Of course death will come to us all at one point, but do we really want to hasten it and let the devil win? Do we really want to defy God who takes ‘no pleasure’ in such extinction and let the ‘devil’s envy’ be victorious?
Our role as Christians is to defend life and defend it from conception until its natural end. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) once said: “Defend the unborn against abortion, even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court, or kill you.”
Yes, it’s that important.