LOVE LIFE – LIVE LIFE: HOMILY – 28th Sunday OT [B] – 14 October 2018  – [Mark 10: 17-30]

Over the last three weeks visitors and locals have been “wowed” by the World of Wearable arts displays – mesmerised by the creativity, beauty and originality of the many entries.  Every session is sold out; people gasp and applaud in amazement at what human talent can achieve.

I find myself asking whether this fascination with ourselves and what we can do distracts our attention from the natural beauty in every moment.  The wonder of earth and sea; the wearable beauty of the heavens, plants and flowers; and especially, the magnificent gift of life, original and unrepeatable in each person.  How terrible not to notice this wonder, or to ignore or forget, or take for granted the fragile treasure that is life.

Tomorrow morning I have five minutes before the Justice Select Committee hearing submissions on Parliament’s End of Life Choice Bill.  I’ll question how this Bill respects life, and the honesty of the proposed legislation.  Many pushing for the “right to die” play on our natural fear of pain and suffering and overlook the kinds of pressure that can lead a person to choose death.  And I’ll ask what helping someone to die has got to do with the medical profession whose sole purpose is to help people to live.

We are appalled at the high rate of youth suicide in NZ, yet our legislators are proposing a law that will allow people to be helped to take their own life!  In the present social climate, it is not too fanciful to see a time ahead when a person may have to argue their right to live!  Already the unborn no longer have that right!

In his conversation with the rich young man in today’s Gospel, Jesus asks: what do you value more than anything else?  What do you?  Our first reading [Wisdom 7:7-11] teaches that the greatest value is not power, not gold or silver, not even health or beauty.  The greatest value is wisdom, understanding.  Surely that is what is most needed in this our own time.

I spent a few days last week with my family in Napier, celebrating my birthday – giving thanks for the gift of life.  While there I met Johnnie Isaac, a 58-year old Maori from Wairoa who spent his first 40 years in and out of foster homes and prisons.  His life was beer and drugs and sex.  He killed his infant son and his only experience of discipline was being violently beaten.  He knew nothing of God until 18 years ago when he heard an inner voice say, I love you!  He remembered his sister, who was a Christian, telling him that Jesus was the God who is love.  This was the turning point for Johnnie Isaac.  I had never really felt loved.  How different life is with love in it.  He has found his way, his greatest value.  For him there’s no turning back.

Pope Francis, in his powerful Letter about the care of our common home, strongly illustrates how each life affects every life.  He urges us not to wait for the next tragedy before reaching out to assist and serve one another.  We are “endowed with intelligence and love” to protect and respect life, not to mutilate or destroy life. [Laudato Si, 83] – Tomorrow is International Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day.  I believe those who suffer such loss – an infant death – have the deepest respect for life.  Their nurturing love unfulfilled, they know the purpose and value of life more than anyone else.

Love life – the life in you, and the life in everyone you know and meet.  Keep saying WOW to yourself because you share in the gift of life; and live that gift in such a way that you, or anyone around you, will never feel the need to get rid of it.