Homily for the Prayer Vigil for Life, Holy Trinity Parish in Jefferson City

David Oatney Blog: Life at 25

Gospel: Matthew 18:1-6, 10-11


At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which is lost.”


In more than one place in the Gospels, Jesus uses the allegory of the faith of a child to describe for us what it takes to make it into the Kingdom of Heaven. Those of us who have children or have had children know that when a child is small, despite all of their attempts at rambunctious or rowdy behavior, the small child depends on his or her parents and tends to be trusting that their parents will protect them from people or things that could otherwise harm them. Kids (for the most part) instinctively believe that they can trust their Mom and Dad or other friends and relatives in their lives to look out for what is good for them. Further, little children do have a tendency to look at the world with wonder and awe. Most children seem to understand that God made them good, and it doesn’t take much explaining to convince children that there is a God and that He loves them. Jesus calls on us to have a faith like what little children do, the faith that trusts that our Father in Heaven knows what is good for us, and that He will look out for us, He knows what is best for us, wants the best for us, and will give us what is best for us if we are willing to place our faith and all of our trust in Him.

God is not like the people most of us deal with every day, and indeed he is not like us…God is perfectly Holy, and in practical terms that means that he isn’t like nearly every other parent in the world. He is trustworthy and he does not make mistakes. Jesus isn’t merely telling us to trust Him with childlike faith, He is telling us that we can trust him with that kind of trust, because He is worthy of it.

Our society has failed Jesus’ test in another more critical way, he asked us not to despise the little ones, but far too many children are discarded today. We know of the many who are abused, neglected, or abandoned, but still many more are not even given the opportunity to live outside of their mother’s womb.

Many of us have “spiritually adopted” an unborn baby, and we’ve been praying for those unborn children, that they will be born healthy, and that their mothers, families, and doctors will choose life for them and give them a chance at life. We pray for these and for all unborn babies waiting to be born, that the world will not be deprived of them, or the gifts that God will give them merely because of the mistakes, or the circumstances, or the bad situations, of the people around them.

As a part of our commitment to the cause of life, we should together redouble our efforts to reach out to those who might consider abortion who feel abandoned, or alone, or helpless, or without hope. As we declare our pro-life commitment, let that commitment also include people who are becoming increasingly neglected by the culture of death, what Pope Francis has called “the throwaway culture.” We must also, to be truly pro-life, be prepared to defend the right to life and the human dignity of the chronically disabled, the elderly,  and the terminally ill, all of whom face danger in the years ahead from a society which increasingly promotes their death as a means to cut healthcare costs or ease “burdens” on families, as opposed the eternal life in Christ Jesus promised to those who patiently endure sufferings until their divinely-ordained removal from the cares of this transitory life.

To be pro-life in this country and at this hour, let us pray for and work for a nation and a world which is open to life and which defends the right to life from conception to natural death for all of the children of God.