In the Gospel for Respect Life Sunday, 11 October 2020, some who are invited to a feast prioritise their farm or business work over the invitation, and refuse to come. The King instead fills his hall with all he can find, regardless of their status, worth and productive value as judged by society.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us again to face ancient questions about the different ways we value life. While the society around us often shows that some lives are worth more than others, we reject that idea. Some of the ways we are seeing that at the moment include commentators who suggest the lives of elderly people, people with disabilities and existing medical conditions, and people who are not part of the paid workforce are not “productive” members of society and therefore more expendable than others in the pandemic.
New abortion legislation earlier this year weakened protection for life before birth. Next week many of us will be voting in the euthanasia referendum.
Allowing legalised euthanasia or assisted suicide commits the State to a process whereby the worth of someone’s life will be assessed. It would divide people into two groups: those whose lives are protected and those who are deemed not to be worthy of the same protection.
The idea that some lives are worth more than others is not the way we look at people through the eyes of faith.
We are one human family, and there is a special place in our family for the most vulnerable, the poor, people experiencing illness or disability, unborn lives, people rejected by society.
We reject the thinking that people’s value is based on some external assessment of their productive value. We recognise that each person has intrinsic dignity as we are each made in the image and likeness of God.
We recognise that our attitudes and values towards some groups in society, eventually rub off and influence our attitudes towards other groups in society. If we regard some lives as worthless and able to be “thrown-away”, it influences our attitudes and behaviour in others. It affects how seriously our message is taken if we are seen as inconsistent or changeable in relation to how we value human life.
In recognising the intrinsic value of every life, we recognise that each of us at times is frail, vulnerable, poor. Many of us now feel vulnerable; however, each of us is precious. Let us take that insight into our decisions and actions during this extraordinary period of human history.
Sunday 11 October 2020 is ‘Respect Life Sunday’, and this year the theme is ‘Valuing the Vulnerable’. This reflection has been taken from the Liturgical Resources provided to acknowledge this day. Click here to learn more and download resources.