by Tom Grenchik
April 5, 2007
The Easter Season gives us many opportunities to reflect on the humbling reality that Jesus Christ died for all of us. Hanging in agony on that cross, our Lord passionately loved every human person that had ever been created, and every human person that would be created from that moment on, until the end of the world. We are always in the mind of God and He has loved us for all eternity. Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again - - for each and every one of us.
But who belongs to "us?" Not very long after Adam was longing for "bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh," human beings began spending a great deal of their time excluding others from the concept of "us." In fact, in the very next generation we see Cain kill Abel, asking defiantly: "Am I my brother's keeper?" This reality has been played out not only among individuals, but also with entire groups of people. Throughout human history we have seen the manifest tragedies that result when some people are defined to be outside of the concept of "us."
It's very easy to look at the past and point fingers. How could reasonable people, and especially people of faith, really have believed that some simply didn't belong in the human family? How could people have tolerated the mistreatment, enslavement or extermination of neighbors because they were disabled, sick, mentally challenged or the wrong color, faith, age or nationality? Yet don't we still do this today? Are there not members of the human family who have been defined as outsiders, not worthy of love and protection? Unfortunately, we have enough current examples of how we mistreat persons at the very beginning of life, at the very end of life and generally whenever they are most vulnerable.
For example, in the public debate over embryonic stem cell research, we have prominent politicians, celebrities and wealthy business leaders all joining forces behind the idea that our youngest members of the human family can be manipulated, experimented upon, and even destroyed if there is some hoped-for medical benefit for the rest of "us." At state and national levels there is the constant and often successful push to justify, fund and promote the cloning of human beings in order to harvest their parts. Because they are tiny human beings, we are told that it's no big deal. Those pushing this agenda are not denying that these are human lives. They simply argue that these human beings don't quite look like us (yet), or they are "left-overs" who no one really wants, or they are simply the property of those who brought them into existence. But no matter how they came to be, and as short as their lives may be, aren't they still members of our human family?
As difficult as it may be for the rich and famous to fathom, our Lord Jesus Christ died not only for the people who look just like "us," but for every human being, no matter how big or small or how young or old. During this Easter Season of new life, let us be reminded of our Lord's perspective on who belongs to us. We must make this our perspective as well, and respond accordingly.
Tom Grenchik is the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.