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Crucible

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November 2018

There comes the moment for many. For a school kid, it could be taking a final exam or standing up to a bully. For others, it could be standing at the end of an aisle and saying, “I do.” Maybe it’s starting a new business or pursuing a lifelong dream. It’s the moment when the rubber meets the road. The moment of decision. The moment of action.

Years ago, our family learned what that moment is for an aspiring U.S. Marine. Shortly before graduating high school our eldest son, already admitted to college, announced his plan to join the Marines following graduation. He wanted to serve, and he didn’t want college life to interfere with his dream. So he went. But to our surprise, he did not go in as a Marine.

He went in as a recruit. For thirteen grueling weeks, he and his platoon were reshaped by their drill instructors. They were put through a barrage of exercising, hiking and running with full gear, field drilling, shooting, and when done, then doing it over and over. They navigated obstacle courses, climbed towers, and repelled down. They ate meals on the fly. They underwent inspection after inspection, re-doing right what was done wrong. They learned to obey orders—right now and without question. They lived as they had never lived.

And then they faced The Crucible, a test like none other. It’s 54 hours of squad exercises designed to test recruits physically, mentally, emotionally, and morally. They slept eight hours total. They ate two and a half meals total. They carried heavy weights—sometimes each other—for long distances. They were pushed beyond everything they experienced in boot camp. They learned to follow and they learn to lead. The reward? When they completed that hell on earth, they were awarded the coveted Eagle, Globe, and Anchor emblem. Even more, for the first time they could call themselves Marines. It was a right they had to earn.

We call ourselves Catholics or Christians, but it’s not a name we’ve earned. Most of us were baptized into out our faith tradition as infants. Essentially, we were born into the faith. There are relatively few converts to it. Many of us went to parochial schools, sometimes all the way through college, where we learned the basics, including religion. But even if we flunked out of our school, we didn’t flunk out of our faith. Our religion was just part of our upbringing. It became part of our background.

All too often, we have kept our faith far in the background. It’s because we so quickly forget that there will be a final examination. Really, it’s an entrance examination—an entrance to Heaven. And though we enter Heaven by God’s grace, not by our own individual worthiness, we will be asked to account for our actions here on earth. It will be a test of our lives. We can count on being tested, for Jesus has given us plenty of advance warning. “When I was hungry, you gave Me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave Me to drink. When I was a stranger you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, in prison and you visited Me.” Those who did will go to the place the Father has prepared from eternity. Those who didn’t, won’t.

There’s a lot in Jesus’ words. We will be judged as much by what we didn’t do as by what we did do. Our omissions—our failure to act—will be as bad for us as our sinful actions. It will not be enough for us to say, “I didn’t kill anyone.” We must show what we have done to positively help others. But there is more. One size does not fit all. Jesus didn’t say: “When I was hungry, you gave Me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave Me to eat. When I was a stranger, you gave me to eat,” and so on. Our help must be specific to an individual’s need.

What do the unborn need? During their nine months in the womb, they get a heart and a brain pretty quickly. All their internal organs are formed and grow. Arms, legs, fingers, and toes, they’re present. In those last few months they gain an enormous amount of weight. But until they leave the womb, we don’t hear a peep out of them. They are voiceless. All too often it spells their doom. Ask yourselves these questions: if the unborn could talk, would they want someone to have the right to take their lives? And if they could voice their vote, all those 60+ million now gone, would they have voted for people who don’t care whether they lived or died? Or ask this question: if those 60+ million unborn could vote against them, do you think for even a second that any political candidate, would vote against them? Would there even be legal abortion in this country if they could vote?

There is now—because the unborn have no voice. It is what they desperately need. It must come from us. In just a few days, our nation will vote for new officials at both the state and local levels. As we just witnessed through the Kavanaugh hearings, those who want the legal killing to continue for their personal gain were willing to do anything to deny the unborn a voice. Every vote will count if the unborn are to be heard. If the Supreme Court eventually overrules Roe v. Wade, it likely will not end legal abortion as such. It will shift the battleground from the federal government to the state governments. Some states will end the slaughter. Whether others do will depend on who hold the reins of power—the governors and legislators. In some states, it includes even the judges.

The election this year is enormously important if the unborn are to gain a voice. And so we face our own crucible—the voting booth—the place where the rubber meets the road. We can call ourselves Catholics and Christians as often as we want, but those terms ring hollow when we don’t help those whose very lives depend on our willingness to help. St. James wrote about a man who upon seeing a shivering person told him to stay well and have a nice day. St. James wasn’t particularly complimentary of that man. Was he really describing us?

When I was unborn, you gave Me a voice. It’s as much a question as an answer.

 

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.

© Paul V. Esposito 2018. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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