Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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Prolife Pigrimage of the Archdiocese of Kampala in the Jubilee Year of Mercy

PROLIFE PILGRIMAGE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF KAMPALA IN THE JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY

8 October 2016

 

During the Pro-Life Pilgrimage to Namugongo in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Occasion was graced by His Excellency Archbishop Michael August Blume the Papal Nuncio to Uganda. Below is the message he gave us.

 

 

At the beginning of the Mass

 

It is a joy to meet all of you here today at Namugongo.  You are representatives of the many young people of Uganda who want to respond with intelligence, compassion and courage to one of the great challenges of our times, the promotion of a culture of life and the rejection of whatever devalues human life and whatever imposes so called “new” human rights that put  God’s most precious gift in danger.  Our means of accomplishing this are not those of the world of economics and politics.  They are the “arms of the Spirit,” of which St. Paul speaks so eloquently: the whole armor of God, clothed with truth, wearing the breastplate of righteousness and the shoes of the gospel of peace, holding the shield of faith, wearing the helmet of salvation, and carrying the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (see Eph 6).  That is how the Martyrs of Uganda were clothed, and that is why their memory is still so strong up to this day.  Putting on these arms means struggling; it’s not easy to dress for combat. All that means, in short, our conversion, the continual effort to turn away from our own sins by begging for divine mercy for ourselves, our fellow Christians, and our nation. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.


 

Homily

When choosing readings for this mass, I decided to look at what the lectionary of this Saturday of the 27th week of the year offers.  Once again I was amazed that Divine Providence, from the beginning of time, had decided to offer us the readings we just heard.  What a beautiful passage of the gospel to conclude a day dedicated to promoting human life!  “A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!’” The voice of that pious woman, surely moved by the Holy Spirit, tells us again the truth about Jesus and his Blessed Mother.  Her enthusiasm also points to what is essential in respecting and defending human life.  She evangelizes all of us today and gives Jesus the opportunity to teach us once again: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”

The word, “Blessed,” proclaims that God’s special favor rests upon someone.  In this case, it is Our Lady, whom the woman described through the powerful and living symbols of the motherhood  and of Mary of every mother:  her womb and her breasts.  The Son of God did not fall out of heaven into the manger of Bethlehem.  He was born of the Virgin Mary, as the Creed says, who also nourished him through her blessed body.   Her motherhood recalls many passages of the Old Testament that are fulfilled in Her.  For example, Psalm 139 expresses the wonder of what happens in the womb: “For you formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother's womb. … Wonderful are your works! You know me right well; my frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret.” Another OT expression, “Ark of the Covenant,” finds fulfillment in Her, for it was that sacred dwelling place of the living God of Israel, which Moses constructed on God’s orders.  Mary is the true ark, for she carried within her body the Son of God.

The maternal womb of Our Lady and -- let me emphasize it -- the womb of every woman, is sacred ground, sacred space, before which we bow in reverence and, like Moses, remove our sandals, symbols of our worldly things that keep us from God, in order to approach what is God’s special possession. 

Traditional cultures likewise surround the mother with sacred respect and special treatment, especially as the birth of a child approaches.  The birth of Our Lord from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary fulfills these traditions and corrects them.  They seeds of the Gospel that God planted long ago in Africa and throughout the whole world. 

This is the biblical vision of motherhood and nourishing of children.  It is the Word of God revealed in the sacred texts and in the symbol of the human body that is created in the image of God.  This is the vision that gives to the Pro-Life movements throughout the world their identity. 

If we accept this vision of faith, how can we accept, even in the name of tolerance and broad-mindedness, what Pope Benedict referred to as the unspeakable violence that takes place in the sacred space of the womb -- in the name of freedom of choice, economic liberation or similar slogans of powerful global cultures, agents of the “ideological colonialization” that Pope Francis has often condemned.  And it is not only so in the case of abortion.  The people who are making billions of dollars a year from the sale of contraceptive chemicals and gadgets are careful to conceal their harmful side effects.  As I go through trading centers here in Uganda, I see, on the store fronts, advertisements for patches and injections and pills that pretend to bring happiness.  But the manufacturers do not tell you, for example, that these chemicals should not be used for more than 18 months.  Just do an internet search of the names of these products, read an article or two, and ask yourself:  Do I want someone I love to take such things?  But do it soon, for it’s not difficult to foresee the time when the warnings will be removed because they contradict the current ideologies and – especially --  reduce profits.

“Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked! …  Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” How can we keep these beatitudes in our minds, hearts and daily actions?  St. Paul reminds us in the first reading about the blessed time in which we leave, the time of faith, for, as he says, “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”  He is talking about all of us, men and women, even the unborn, who are also destined to be in Christ through faith and baptism.  Paul continues: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We wear Christ like the garment we receive at baptism.  It also reminds us of the “armor of the Spirit” we put on as I mentioned at the beginning of Mass.

Then St. Paul reminds his people of that special and very deep unity among Christians that is part of being one in Jesus Christ through faith and baptism:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Perhaps if St. Paul were speaking to us today and responding to the anti-life culture that is in the air, he might add another category, which is used to discriminate against and eliminate the little unborn ones. Maybe he would say something like this: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; [neither big person nor little unborn person], for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

That unity has to be cultivated through listening to the Word of God, especially in the liturgy, through celebration and reception of the One Body of Christ, through the community life of fraternal charity.  That is what your local pro-life organizations are all about.

Regarding the practice of communal charity, allow me to make special mention, especially of the case of young women with “unplanned pregnancies.”  We cannot abandon them, for we know that there will often be strong pressure to abort either from the boy friends of from the families.  In this year of mercy, in particular, the Lord is appealing to us to embrace those who have sinned and console them in their sorrow and confusion.   That involves families, your pro-life groups, your priests and religious.  Help them through these difficult moments of crisis, show them the Lord’s mercy.  People can criticize us for condemning abortion and then doing nothing to help those who are pressured into it.  We also need mature people with some professional formation to assist those who suffer spiritually and psychologically often many years after such experiences.

May the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, bearers of the arms of the Spirit, including the spiritual fruits of kindness, compassion, and mercy, assist us as you continue the mission that this Archdiocese of Kampala entrusts to you.  May you be witnesses to Christ, joyful and merciful ones, as you go about your apostolate, defending life, speaking and witnessing the truth, and being signs of hope in our challenging world. Stay close to Our Lady, keeping the Word of God as she did, turning it over and over again in her heart.

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