Respect for Life
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The Roman Catholic Church, truly believes in the sanctity of human life. The Church teaches that new life starts at the moment of conception and should end naturally only when God calls a person back to him. Human life is sacred and is a gift from God to us. The Catholic Church believes it is unlawful to take a life. Everyone is equal and has the right to life no matter what colour, race, religion or stage of life they are at. The following quote “Nobody has the right to interfere with God’s designs over a human life” in Evangelium Vitae, No 44, teaches us that nobody has the right to decide when or how a life should end. No-one should intervene in God’s plan for his/her own purposes.
In the Book of Genesis we read about the story of the creation. It states: “Man is created in the image and likeness of God”. God left human kind in charge, to take care of the world and everything in it. For the Jewish people of those times and Orthodox Jews to this day, all human life has as its author the One God whose creative power produces the child in the mother’s womb and brings it step-by-step to full life. The Old Testament revelation, which the Church inherited and accepted, gives clear evidence that life in the womb was considered sacred. Moses proclaimed, “When you harken to the voice of the Lord, your God, all these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you: May you be blessed in the city, and blessed in the country!
Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks!” (Deuteronomy 28:2-5). The Old Testament also testifies how God has specially marked individuals for an important role of leadership from the very first moment of their lives: “Beloved of his people, dear to his Maker, dedicated from his mother’s womb, consecrated to the Lord as a prophet, was Samuel, the judge and priest” (Sirach 46:13). God gave the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai and the fifth one ” Thou shalt not kill ” applies to methods of ending a life by human hands.
In the New Testament, new meaning is given to the beginning of each human life in the description of the life of Jesus in the womb. Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore the Word of God was made flesh. When Mary visited Elizabeth, her child ” leaps with joy in the womb at hearing the voice of Mary “. All through the New Testament, Jesus shows his love and concern for all people. He tended the poor, healed the sick, and showed his love for children. When the rich young man asked him ” Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ” (Mark 10). Jesus replied ” You know the commandments: You must not kill….”.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching in a synagogue when he was presented with a man with a withered hand. This was a test to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to them ” Is it against the law on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill? ” It is quite clear that Jesus equates doing good with saving life and doing evil is destroying life. Jesus never had any time for those who considered themselves superior to others and he was always found amongst the weak in society such as tax collectors and sinners.
The fifth commandment ” Thou shalt not kill ” protects the first right of a human person to life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental- the condition of all the others. It does not belong to society. The right to life is no less to be respected in the small infant than in the mature person. The Catechism states that ” Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception “. Human life is precious and can only be taken away by God. The innocent have to be protected and no one more innocent than an unborn baby could ever be imagined. The unborn child is totally entrusted to protection and care of the woman carrying him/her in the womb.
Every stage of our life in the Catholic Church is marked at different ages by a sacrament. The first is baptism which occurs mostly just after birth. The baby is welcomed into the church and is anointed with holy water and oils. The new child is now under the protection of God through His church. The sacrament-the anointing of the sick- is very important as it sometimes brings our life on earth to conclusion and we prepare for a new life in the kingdom of God. Both sacraments highlight that human life is sacred no matter the stage.
To conclude, respect for human life is very important as it shows respect also for God because we are created in His image. All through the bible, in both the Old and New Testament, the taking of life in any shape or form for any reason, by any method is alien to the teaching of Jesus. We are taught as Catholics that life is a gift from God to be enjoyed and therefore it is only God who should take this gift away from us.