The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Friday, September 11, 2009

24th Sunday Ordinary “B”

The story is told about Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith received the news that one of her neighbours, Mrs. Jones, was very seriously sick in hospital. She asked the bearer of the news to bring a message to Mrs. Jones. “Tell her that I'll remember her in my prayers, and that I hope she'll soon be feeling better.”

And she was as good as her word. That same night as she said her night prayers she prayed very sincerely and fervently for Mrs. Jones. She said to God, 'Lord, I want to commend my neighbour Mrs. Jones to you. She's very seriously ill. She needs a lot of help, a lot of support.'

When she finished her prayers, she felt better. And yet, something was bothering her. But she was tired and she soon fell asleep. She had a dream. In her dream she heard God saying to her, 'I can see that you're very concerned about your neighbour, Mrs. Jones.'

'Yes, Lord, I really am,' she replied with no little pride.

'And I understand that your neighbour is in great need of help,' said God.

'So I've been told,' said Mrs. Smith.

The Lord said to her 'You know, what she needs most is someone to spend a little time with her.'

'You're absolutely right Lord. I was thinking the same myself,' Mrs. Smith answered.

'Now when you asked me to help her, you weren't expecting me to come down from heaven to visit her, were you?'

'No, Lord, I wouldn't expect you to do that. Nor would my neighbour expect it either. In fact, I think the shock of it might kill her.'

'But she does need someone to visit her?'

Yes, she does, Lord.'

Jesus said 'Whom can I send?'

After a long pause, Mrs. Smith said, 'Send me, Lord.'

When she woke up from her dream, she knew exactly what she had to do.

St James says, 'If someone comes to you who is lacking food or cloth­ing, it's not enough just to say to him, "I wish you well," and leave it at that.'

It's not enough to say to a needy person, 'I'll pray for you.' We must not think that we have done our bit once we have referred the matter to God. That sounds very much like passing the buck. When we pray for another person, in effect we are saying to God, “Here I am, Lord. Send me”.

Our prayer should commit us to some positive action, no matter how small. But even a small act, such as a visit, could prove to be a costly gesture, because it means putting ourselves alongside a suffering person. And to do that is to lay ourselves open to that person's pain. We will inevitably absorb some of that pain.

To pray for people, or to wish them well, is a good thing. It gives them the comfort of knowing that they are not alone.

But the Bible says that is not quite enough. St. James calls that a dead faith. If our faith is alive we will express our concern in action also.

St. Peter got the identity of Jesus absolutely right. Jesus was the Messiah. St. Peter’s faith was perfect as far as words went. But when the time came for action, he was sadly lacking.

When Jesus asked him to watch with Him during His agony in the garden, he fell asleep. And later that night he denied that he had ever known Jesus.

So there is a type of faith that consists only of words. And there is a faith that flows into actions. We need God's grace, not only to profess our faith, but also to live it.

We are all aware of the upcoming debate in the House of Commons concerning Euthanasia and assisted suicide. Many of us have written letters to our members of Parliament.

It should give us a good feeling to have participated somewhat in the fight for justice for the elderly and those others who may also become victims of this new law.

We may even have prayed to the Lord about the issue.

And that’s good but we didn’t do this to feel good. We did this to be faithful. And being faithful does not end with one good deed. It calls for consistency and persistence.

For example, now that we have written our letters and said our prayers, how many of us have discussed the issue with our neighbours, many of whom may not be aware of Bill C-384.

Don’t be fooled. This issue will be introduced as one of mercy. A human right.

Once it becomes law, once the door has been opened it will not be closed.

The strategy of those who want to sneak this past us is to not allow debate on the issue once it becomes controversial.

Take the issue of abortion for example – how often do you hear about it in the news? Never.

It is a forbidden topic in politics in Canada.

There is no outcry because there is no discussion in the first place. As a result Canada is the only country in the western world that has absolutely no law in place regarding abortion.

None whatsoever.

And they don’t like to call it abortion anymore. Instead it’s a human right. A woman’s reproductive health issue.

What ever happened to the baby’s right to be born?

Abortions can be done in Canada, any time and any place without penalty. As I speak, there are Canadian babies that are being dissected in the womb. First they are killed with instruments and then dissected, removed and disposed of.

This can be done anytime up to the day before the birth of the baby. We don’t hear about it because the topic is taboo.

We think if we don’t hear about it, it isn’t happening.

Make no mistake about it our silence has put the blood of thousands of innocents on our hands.

And God will want an answer for our silence.

Recently Audrey and I were at the Hospital for a hymn sing which is done every Thursday by the various churches, each church taking a turn.

After the sing-a-long was over we were greeted by a lady with a Dutch accent. During the course of the conversation she informed us that she just recently returned from a final visit to her birthplace in Holland.

A final visit? we asked. Yes, she said, I am getting older now and with the new laws over there, if I get sick and end up in their hospitals that could be it for me. They could just put me down like a dog and it would be perfectly legal and nothing could be done about it.

You see in 1984 Holland introduced legal Euthanasia. It was introduced as a humane measure to end people’s suffering. It was introduced as a human right.

At first it required the patient to give their consent and when this was not possible then a responsible relative had to give their consent.

Then the doctors made the argument that for various reason it was not always possible to get either the patient nor the relative’s permission and the patient suffered needlessly.

So we are told that the law was changed to allow the doctor in certain cases to be the only one to make the decision.

Today this is commonplace.

A survey conducted by the Journal of Medical Ethics in Holland looked at figures from 1995 (that was 14 years ago) and at that time they found that even then of the 3600 authorized cases for euthanasia there were also 900 others which the doctors performed without any permission from anyone.

In those identified cases the doctor merely stating that they felt they were terminating the patient in their best interest. Nothing was done about it. And so today it has become commonplace.

Dr. Henk Jochensen of the Lindeboom Institute and Dr. John Keown of Queen’s College, Cambridge carried out a study and found that the reality in Holland is this: In a clear majority of cases of euthanasia, both with and without request, many now go unreported and unchecked.

Dutch legal claims of effective regulation ring hollow. There is no regulation. Like abortion in Canada, it is not discussed. It is just done.

Dr. Peggy Norms, chairwoman of the group “Alert” tells us “ We need to learn from the Dutch system that euthanasia cannot be controlled.” There are patients in a nursing home who are carrying around what they call sanctuary certificates all the time on their persons. This certificate states that they do not want to be helped to die.”

But there is no guarantee that any doctor will honor the certificate.

People are afraid of being sick in case a doctor takes the decision, without their permission, to stop treatment or to otherwise initiate termination.

In Holland, it started innocently. A law to allow euthanasia in special cases, with many safeguards in place, in the interest of humane treatment to end suffering.

In Holland today we are told that any person can be selected for termination in a hospital. The Doctor makes the decision. He or she need not consult with colleagues or even the family. The doctor makes the sole decision. And they do so with impunity. The law protects them.

Once the door was open it was a very speedy and slippery slope to the present state of affairs.

And that door is about to be opened in Canada. In the name of so called mercy, medical practitioners, not necessarily a doctor, will be allowed to assist at suicides and to practice euthanasia.

Euthanasia is now legal in several states in the United States and soon will be in Britain.

Are we next? And will Canada, as it did for Abortion, be the one to set the example by removing all restrictions?

Considering that the elderly account for just over a third of the funds spent on health care and with our over extended health care system, what do you think the odds are that financial consideration will be the one important determining factor.

Do we need this bed for someone else?

And just as our tax dollars are being used to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent human babies in the womb, our tax dollars will also be used to foot the bill for the expected thousands of innocent elderly and other vulnerable and expendable human beings to be disposed of in a humane manner in the misguided name of mercy. Mercy.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in their spiritual and bodily necessities.

Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving others and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and the imprisoned and burying the dead.

No where does it include ending the life of anyone either in the womb or the hospital bed in the name of mercy. The right to end life in all these cases belongs to Almighty God alone.

In Canada we have the blood of thousands of innocents on our hands since the onset of free and uncontrolled abortion. Make no mistake about it we will have to answer to Almighty God for our silence on that issue. Are we about to add Euthanasia to the list of our corporate sins? Or are we going to fight this?

Are we going to add our names to those who may have to pay a price for their convictions in order to protect the innocent?

And here I think of Leah Hallman and her associates. What will her fight against abortion cost her? A fine, an education, a jail term? Maybe all three? This is the kind of faith in action that St. James is talking about. Their faith is not one of words alone. They backed up their words with action.

Will we oppose abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide in an open and vocal manner realizing that it could also cost us a price? Will we be true disciples of Jesus by standing and defending the innocent?

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls to us.

If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.

Jesus is asking us right now: You already have the killing of innocents by abortion in Canada and now Euthanasia and assisted suicide are coming your way. If you call yourself Christians, if you say you are my disciples, if you are followers of Mine, what are you doing to try to stop this injustice?

Will you take up your cross and follow Me – no matter what the cost?

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

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