Monday, May 25, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Meek First Baseman

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:5

This is the third part of Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball, essays which look at each beatitude three ways: in relationships to God, to His laws, and to others, especially the least favored of humanity. The nine beatitudes also work together, much like the nine players on a baseball team. Accordingly, the introduction to each discussion relates a beatitude to a quality of a famous baseball player. See how many you recognize before you hear the player’s name.

Born to German immigrant parents in 1903, he was the only one of four children to survive. Though a Yankee, he played in the shadow of Babe Ruth and said: “Lets face it. I'm not a headline guy. I always knew that as long as I was following Babe to the plate I could have gone up there and stood on my head. No one would have noticed the difference. When the Babe was through swinging, whether he hit one or fanned, nobody paid any attention to the next hitter. They all were talking about what the Babe had done." This meek first baseman, however, amassed 493 home runs and a .340 lifetime batting average while playing in 2130 consecutive games over 13 years, despite unmentioned suffering of numerous fractures. When a terminal illness finally felled him, he still told people, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” He died in 1941 at age 37 of the illness which now bears his name, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

One word sums up the relationships of a meek person to God, His laws and others: respect. Meek persons respect God, His laws and all of humankind. Persons who best put the first two beatitudes into play actually become the meekest among us. Their very lives echo St. Paul’s words, “I am the least of all God’s people.” Ephesians 3:8.

In contrast, prochoice persons boast of their “rights to choose” to ignore God’s rules; they give God less respect and claim to be more important than mere “products of conception” or “tissues” which threaten their lifestyles. They fail to acknowledge that all of us are just products of conception. Although some are older by a few years or perhaps a few decades, all of us are young compared with the eternity God means us to share with Him and our fellow human beings, many of whom are yet unborn. Abortion does not end the reality of those killed. It merely amputates the body from the spirit, as all death does. We lose a profound respect for God and the dignity of all humankind when we send so many young lives into eternity where we soon must follow. What kind of a welcome are we expecting when we get there?

Prochoice persons, however, assert meekness because they do not “want to judge” anyone; rather they tolerate the “lifestyle choices” of others, even if they are personally opposed to them. How tolerant would they be of lifestyles which robbed them of their own lives? Should not true meekness protect the defenseless as much as oneself? In truth, such “tolerance” is refusal to submit to the authority of God to set standards for all persons to follow. It masks rebelliousness rather than becomes meekness. We do not judge people by asking them not to kill us or those more defenseless than us. To respect God, even the meek must resist evil which is opposed to Him. Only God can judge, but by aligning our speech and conduct with His commandments, we help others do so likewise.

Prolife persons become meek by respecting God in all that we do in the prolife cause. He will bring an end to abortion through our actions, or more likely, in spite of our small actions and large inactions. We praise God. We respect His law best when we follow it. We obey. We show respect for others most when we share their burdens. We serve. Our service is not just to those in crisis pregnancy, though that service is most worthy of our efforts. Our service is also to their children, especially when they are most vulnerable. We are meekest when we are not too busy or too proud or too important to give of our time, our talents and our treasures for mothers and children in crisis and afterwards.