Not every President has done it. Teddy Roosevelt dropped the line and so did the son of John Adams. But yesterday (and the day before) President Obama took the oath of office as given by the Constitution and added the words “so help me God.”
Why did the President of the most powerful nation on earth add the words “so help me God.” It is an acknowledgement, first uttered by our first President that the origin of every just law, every good governance is God.
Now you expect me to lament how a government which pledges that it lives under God has violated the fifth commandment fifty five million times in the forty years since Roe v Wade. You expect I will make an oblique reference to our pilgrimage on Friday and maybe even repeat how the press perennially underreports how many of us are there. Perhaps I might even make sarcastic reference to the politicians who give lip service to Life in his campaign and then nothing ever changes....Etc. Etc. Etc.
And it's all true and it would have made a pretty good, if mostly political homily. But I don’t want to talk about the President or the Supreme Court or a political act, as important as all of that is. I want to talk about us. For if the origin of just laws is in God, the origin of evil is in the human heart. Not just in their hearts, but in ours as well.
Why does a mother kill her child? How can a Father walk with his beloved into an abortion clinic? Is it just that they are evil and we are good? Or is there a log we need to remove from our own eyes before we can preach effectively to them?
Think of the mother and father who are about to abort their child. Did they set out to kill? No. They will tell you they set out to solve a problem in their lives, a big problem which they see has financial, social, and maybe even career implications. And like every problem, they look for an effective solution that will make it go away.
They fail to see that the child they carry, no matter how troublesome, is not a problem but a person, not a thing to be disposed of but a human being to be loved.
And I wonder whether we cannot be guilty of the same. When we hear the President loudly defending the right of a mother to take the life of her child, do we demonize and dismiss him? Do we treat him as a problem to be solved, with no redeeming value, entirely dismissive of his every action and every word, rather than a person with dignity and value to be loved?
And when we see the small band of counter-demonstrators who gather in a tight circle outside the Supreme Court each year standing for a woman’s right to abortion, do we see them as problems to be solved, political operatives to be removed from the equation or as people to be loved?
When we answer our enemies with sarcasm or disdain, dismissing them as evil things that besmirch our perfect vision, we act from the same dark reservoir of selfishness from which the most dedicated abortionist draws his power.
We’re better than that. We stand for life. We march for life. We pray for life. With our last breath we will defend every human life from conception to natural death.
But that includes the life each Supreme Court Justice, and the Director of NARAAL, and even the religious sister who naively supports abortion.
Remember Jesus with the woman at the well? He spoke the truth and invited her to conversion, but he did so with a love for her more tangible than any love she had ever felt before.
When God works an end to this slaughter, which in his good time he will, it will be through love, and respect for the dignity of every human person...even the one against whose ways I march....so help me God.