I fully realize that there are differing viewpoints on just about anything, but there are some issues where one would think it would be natural to come to mutual agreement. That doesn’t seem to be the case in modern culture even among some homogeneous groups like church congregations. A lot of drummers must have been produced because we are marching to many different beats.
I am stunned that Christians of any denomination can be okay with abortion after what has been revealed in the recently released undercover videos. Whether you want to claim that the videos created by the Center for Medical Progress were obtained illegally, are heavily edited, or whatever other excuse you want to propose, do you still not find the content horrifying? It is beyond my comprehension as to how anyone with a moral conscience at all could continue to defend such practices. And yet, people are still throwing their full support to the heavily tax-funded organization of Planned Parenthood. Over 1.4 million dollars a day of OUR taxpayer money goes to this organization.
Harsh criticism has been leveled at me this week since daring to preach on the sale of body parts at Mass last Sunday. I was told that I had fallen for the “abortion smokescreen and had become part of the conservative Republican agenda”. Another person said that I watch too much cable news “where the media endeavors to create chasms in its viewership to achieve political ends.” I could go on but you get the point. I guess I should have done the same thing as Fr. Larry Richards who started his homily this past weekend by saying, “This isn’t a political homily. It’s a salvation homily.” Abortion is a moral issue. It has been made a political issue, but it remains a moral issue.
As I was thinking about some of these things this morning I realized that discouragement was settling into my mindset. Although I received a great deal of favorable feedback regarding my homily from people who appreciated the message, my mind was focused on those I seemingly failed to reach. How could I have said it more effectively? What did I miss as I framed the message in the context of the Scriptures? Did I follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as I prepared and delivered the message?
Difficult moments cause me to pause and reflect. Evaluating and discerning my internal dispositions are helpful for correction and reproof. It is an opportunity to more fully experience the presence of God. After prayer I began reviewing some material that I have accumulated through the years on leadership. I found several pages of quotes that provided plenty of food for thought. Many of these were in John Maxwell's book, Leadership 101. A few quotes really struck me as being pertinent in the current circumstances.
"The highest purpose for faith is not to change my circumstances but to change me."
"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
"People do not follow programs; rather, they follow leaders who inspire them."
"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."
"A leader takes people where they want to go. A GREAT LEADER takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be."
I have been blessed with some extraordinary people in my life through the years who have helped me grow in faith, in knowledge, and in understanding. They have been an asset in encouraging me to strive for that place where I ought to be. In turn, I have been striving to be that great leader who helps others get to where they ought to be. I am not always successful but I am striving to be faithful to the call. I know I still have much work to do in my earthly pilgrimage.
My responsibility is to proclaim the Good News of Salvation. In one way I can look at the criticisms from this past week and say that I succeeded. One individual told me I was supposed to afflict the comfortable. As angry as he was I thought I had succeeded. However, he said I failed. Another individual said he attends Mass for solace and contentment and I took that away from him. Apparently, I afflicted him even if I failed with the other one. There is a desire to bring comfort to those who need it as well. These videos have sparked a lot of emotion among those who have been affected by abortion. Please know there is healing and peace in Jesus Christ. Seek out assistance if you need it. There is comfort for those who have been afflicted.
In closing, I recall John Maxwell's line, "When you're through improving, you're through." As long as we are blessed with the gift of life, we continue to move forward in our journey toward God. The key to successful leadership is influence--not position or authority. The question I am asking myself I will also pose to you. Are you exhibiting a positive influence for those around you and bringing them closer to God?