March for Life Homily: 'The Gospel Does Not Call Us to Win; It Calls Us to Love'

WASHINGTON — Student pro-life activists in town for today’s March for Life heard at a pre-rally Mass that the movement is “not blameless” in embracing politicians who seek the anti-abortion vote but show a lack of support for human dignity at other stages of life.

Father Sam Sawyer, in his homily at the Jesuit Mass for Life at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church, advised protesters to think about what it means to love their enemies as they marched.

“Today, when you go out to the Mall and walk along Constitution Avenue to stand before the steps of the Supreme Court, will you be going out as God sent out Jeremiah, formed from the womb to be a prophet to the nations, to uproot and tear down, to build and to plant?” the Jesuit priest asked. “Or will you be going out to walk those 1.3 miles with thousands upon thousands of people the way Jesus invites his disciples: turning the other cheek, rejecting the logic of violence and supremacy, willing to walk the extra mile even in the face of persecution? And even, for this is Jesus’ great challenge and invitation to us, to walk that mile with and for the persecutor?”

Faith, he said, calls for “speaking truth to power on behalf of the defenseless unborn and, if God gives us the grace, at the same time loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.”

“Considered from the standpoint of politics, it seems the right tactical move is to press whatever advantage we have as far as it will go. Pass every law we can; appoint every judge we can; and align ourselves with whoever gets us closer to the goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, no matter the other costs,” Sawyer said. “In contrast, the Gospel we heard today is a tactical trainwreck. It tells us to offer no resistance to enemies and love them instead. To be blunt, it calls for pre-emptive unilateral disarmament. To be even more blunt: When we began Mass with the Sign of the Cross, we were embracing exactly where the logic of today’s Gospel leads us and where it led Jesus.”

The executive editor of America magazine noted that “our politicians are, right now, trapped in a crazy zero-sum game where they cannot figure out how to pay for health insurance for children that almost everyone agrees is a good idea—or how to avoid deporting 800,000 young people who have lived here most of their lives, which almost everyone agrees is a bad idea.”

“Even when we mostly want the same thing, we cannot figure out how to do it together,” he said.

Still, Sawyer continued, the pro-life movement has “allowed our support to be claimed by politicians who are right on abortion and wrong on nearly everything else, and who have a more consistent respect for the pro-life vote than they do for the dignity of every human life at every stage.”

“And these are among the reasons that we are often mistrusted and that we will be mistrusted by many people we pass in our march today. Even if the court reversed Roe v. Wade tomorrow, that mistrust would still need to be overcome in order for unborn children to be truly welcomed in love and protected in law,” he added, noting the Gospel calls the faithful “to accompany people who do not deserve it at great risk to ourselves, and in that accompaniment both we and our enemies may be transformed by grace in ways we do not expect.”

“…The Gospel does not call us to win. It calls us to love. And when we actually go out into the world and risk taking Jesus at his word, truly loving our enemies and walking the extra mile with them, we cooperate with God’s grace, grace so powerful that it was victorious even through death. I do not know what that is going to look like. But I trust that it will be better than any victory we could win for ourselves.”

The Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada marked the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with an updated statement on abortion, “Protecting the Least Among Us,” that slams “massive injustices in our society” that foster a “spirit of callous disregard for life” that “shows itself in direct assaults on human life such as abortion and capital punishment.”

“There are less direct but equally senseless ways we undermine life, through violence, racism, xenophobia, and the growing inequality of wealth and education,” the statement says in part. “We also seek justice in ensuring that pregnant women and mothers have the resources they need to care for their children and live full lives.”