Homily of Deacon Chris Sandner at the Mass for the Unborn

Come and See!

Note: On Sunday, January 15, 2012, Thomas Aquinas College hosted a Mass for the Unborn in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Below  is the text of the homily that Deacon Chris Sandner, the Respect Life Coordinator for the Santa Barbara Region of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, delivered at the Mass.

Like the two disciples in this Gospel today (John 1: 35-42), we too are being challenged by Christ’s question “What are you looking for?” As a people of faith we know that the person of Christ lies at the root of our answer. And if we wish to experience to the fullest our own capacity for love and well being, then we must be willing to either accept in good conscience or reject with conviction what the culture is offering.

“Come and See” is Christ’s invitation to each and every person who seeks a better way, who truly desires to know the truth and who deeply hopes to do good. This invitation asks that we become more aware of Christ Himself in order to see up close the meaning of His own life and sacrifice. What are we looking for? We seek to live rightly, to grow in compassion, to love completely.

Like Andrew and the other disciple we find ourselves, still, at a crossroads where we must choose between accepting Christ’s rather simple invitation to faith or to instead go in the opposite direction. Two ways of thinking; one leads to great happiness joy, the other to great suffering.

Barely 120 days after Thomas Aquinas College opened its doors to welcome its first students, the U.S. Supreme Court heard legal arguments in the case of Roe v. Wade. The decision of that court and the harm that has been done since is what we are here to acknowledge and pray will come to an end. It is no accident that this school has flourished during  this same period, in large part because it so clearly, openly, and consistently opposed the direction the nation has taken.

One way claims that happiness is found when our personal wants and desires are a person’s first priority and come before the legitimate needs of others. The other way is harder because it demands that we first acknowledge that each human person is entitled to his full and natural life and then we must act accordingly, in all that that entails.

It is the second way, the harder of the two, that Christ is inviting us to take.

In writing his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, Bl. John Paul II made it clear that when we are confused about the true value of any human life, we also lose all sense of meaning in our own. Any society which intentionally distorts the meaning human life in order to deny its value will eventually but surely destroy itself.

At the core of man’s highest calling is the obligation to choose whether or not he will be a servant to himself or to someone else. If he chooses wrongly the damage to self and society can be overwhelming and not easily corrected. But when he gets it right, when a person with faith and in good conscience acts according to his own true, best nature then the doorway to a real and lasting happiness is opened up for all.

“The good we seek, ” St.Thomas Aquinas wrote, “is one and the same as existence itself.” The desire to do good, therefore, is not some lofty intellectual exercise, but is instead normal and natural. To seek what is good in every human life is to defend the innocent and the weak in our own lives as well as in the public square, especially the public square. It is impossible to remain ambivalent on the question of the value of human life because the desire to protect life is built right into our DNA. To act otherwise is a nothing less than a conscious decision to cause harm.

“Come and see” is also the gentle instruction of Bl. John Paul II when he urged us so often not to be afraid. To follow Christ means that we are also willing to accept the struggles that an active faith in Him will surely bring when we stand up for the weakest and the most innocent, but when we also experience real joy and we find real meaning in our own lives. “Man affirms himself most completely,” John Paul wrote“by giving himself.” Every mother and every father knows this to be true.

Barely 120 days after Thomas Aquinas College opened its doors to welcome its first students, the U.S. Supreme Court heard legal arguments in the case of Roe v. Wade. The decision of that court and the harm that has been done since is what we are here to acknowledge and pray will come to an end. It is no accident that this school has flourished during  this same period, in large part because it so clearly, openly, and consistently opposed the direction the nation has taken.

The two ways of thinking which separate the purpose and the trajectory of this school from the direction this nation has taken on the question of the basic human right to live could not be any greater.

Consistent abortions levels over more than 30 years in this country have resulted in a future workforce that will not and cannot meet the obligations that this governing generation has already claimed for itself. Schools are closing for lack families with some now asking if gender, the very means by which human beings can relate to each other, should have a place in the training of our children.

This way of thinking has also taken hold all over the world. In barely 25 years the one child per family policy in China is already causing enormous suffering and horrible consequences in the form of unnatural gender imbalances, which is leading to the wholesale destruction of the culture which for thousands of years has depended primarily on the family. At the same time increases in child prostitution are on the rise and fatherless children living outside of the social network are nearly forgotten altogether.

You and I have seen the consequences of selfishness and the lack of protection for the unborn, and we cannot ever be afraid to oppose its practice. So, what should a faithful people do? How should those who choose to seek what is good in every person respond when the society exhibits what John Paul II termed a Culture of Death?

In six days many of you here today will travel to the city of San Francisco and join 50,000 others who have also concluded that we must never ignore the needs of any of God’s children. By marching in the streets of a city that has chosen to deny the value of the unborn by distorting the very meaning of human life, you will be a powerful and visible proof to those who despair that God has forgotten them.

You will a true beacon of encouragement to a city where the number of people over the age of 65 outnumber by almost 4:1 he number of children under the age of 5. Your very presence, even if only for a day, will remind those that suffer from a lack of hope that there is an alternative to the kind of thinking that has resulted in an average household that statistically contains barely two people. Young and old, pushed in wheelchairs and strollers, married and single, together you will be the evidence that a city that has devalued the lives of some in the name of the common good needs most to see.

By inviting each of us to come and see for ourselves where He is going, Christ promises to reveal the good that lives in every soul when sacrifice and care are the rule and not the exception. By virtue of our faith, we have already accepted Christ’s invitation, and now that we have witnessed and can compare between the two ways — the pain and the needless damage to women and families and society of one, as well as the great joys and deeply felt gratitude we experience of the other — we are now ready, ready to turn our attention towards those who may still be confused and lost.

“Come and see” must now become our appeal to any and all who wish to find a better way and who hope that they themselves are valued and are worthy of our care.

By your presence here today and with your prayers, you give encouragement to each other and you increase the likelihood that one day each child will be received into the loving and protective arms of his parents.

To those who have yet to take their first breath, we again affirm our deep commitment to their protection. And to those who wish for greater and deeper meaning in their own lives, we now offer the same invitation that Jesus has given to us which we have accepted; to show them what we now know, to point out the direction we have chosen, to them especially we say....

“Come, come and see,” for yourselves the true joys that a life lived in faith has to offer.

Deacon Chris Sandner
Dr. Jean Rioux

“If you come to the College with any spark of faith at all, it’s fanned into flames. That’s certainly what happened to me.”

– Dr. Jean Rioux (’82)

Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Benedictine College

“I am happy with the mission of Thomas Aquinas College and with the results spread through various countries in the world!”

– Most Rev. Lionginas Virbalas

Metropolitan Archbishop of Kaunas, Lithuania