At five o’clock this morning, our noble seminarian pilgrims set off by train for our Nation’s Capitol to take part in the Day of Prayer and Penance for Life. To understand the weather they faced, here’s a view of the snow between the cars as they approached Union Station!
This evening they took part in the Vigil Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by Cardinal O’Malley.
Tomorrow will begin with a Holy Hour at 5:00am. Here’s the homily they will hear preached by Father Riley in those early morning hours:
Jesus called the first of the Apostles with two simple words: “follow me.” So they dropped their nets, left their old life and followed him down the road.
Little did they know where that road would lead. Little did they know its final destination: the Cross and how their basic job description, like the job description of the Church, would be to proclaim that Cross and he who was crucified upon it for their salvation.
It’s the same job description given by God to Jonah: to proclaim the message God would give him, almost the same message which Jesus gives to his disciples: “Repent and Believe! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
It’s the same message God gives to us. To repent. To turn away from all darkness, selfishness, and sin and cling only to the Light, Love, and Purity which we come to know in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
For there is much darkness, selfishness, and sin in our world. Just forty-one years ago today our country legalized the taking of innocent human life by abortion. Since that time, fifty six million children have lost their lives before birth by abortion.
And so we join Jonah and Simon and Andrew in proclaiming to all who will listen: Repent and Believe! Repent from the darkness which would see the life of another human being as but a disposable problem, repent from the selfishness that refuses to love the innocent and most vulnerable among us, repent from the sin of taking the life of that tiny child.
And believe! Believe that God will hold us responsible for our actions, believe that we will be judged on whether we have embraced the culture of death or the Gospel of Life, believe that Jesus meant it when he said “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”
Repent, believe, and follow him. Follow him as you walk the streets of your nation’s Capitol in his patient endurance, in his love even for his enemies, in his prayer from the cross: “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing!”
Follow him through the cold and the snow in proclaiming the truth in season and out. Follow him who stood up to the Pharisees, the Chief Priests, and Sadducees and all the leaders of his day and rendered unto God what was God’s.
Follow him whom they crucified for the truth he lived in love. Follow him to the Cross and join your suffering to his that it might have meaning and give praise to Almighty God. “They will treat you as they treated me,” he reminded us. Let us rejoice in that truth!
For as we have followed him to the Cross, we will surely follow him to the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. Where we will see, face to face, all those tiny children who have died at the hands of our selfishness and sin. Let us work for Justice, defend those whom everyone else forgets about, and with the courage of Jonah, Simon, and Andrew proclaim to all the world that the Kingdom of God is at hand!
The Holy Hour will be followed by a Mass with Cardinal O’Malley at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart and then the March for Life through the very very cold streets of our nation’s Capitol. All will return to their warm beds in Boston via another long train ride. All because they believe what Pope Francis taught us just last week:
"Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as 'unnecessary'. For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity."