Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beatitudes, Babies and Baseball: The Merciful Third Baseman

The Merciful Third Baseman

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Matthew 5:7

The middle three beatitudes are the heart, soul and spirit of the beatitudes. Consider each from the perspective of three relationships: our relationship with God, with His laws and with others, especially the least favored of humanity. This essay considers the fifth of nine beatitudes, most central to Christ's message. Just for fun, the introduction tells about a baseball player who has some of the characteristics of the beatitude. How soon can you name the player?

One of my best friends was in an automobile accident when he was in high school. He was unconscious or semiconscious for months afterwards. A sportscaster who knew of his condition contacted this baseball player to ask him to visit my friend where he lay in the hospital. Without fanfare or any publicity, this star third baseman, who had just completed his most impressive season and won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award, not only visited my friend, but he also brought my friend an autographed baseball signed by all of his league’s All Stars at the All Star Game that summer. My friend’s spirits were rejuvenated when he learned afterwards of this extraordinary visit and extraordinary gift to him. You may know of this extraordinary baseball player as the Cardinal player who later managed the New York Yankees, Joe Torre.

Our relationship with Christ is at the center of the fifth beatitude, mercy. First, He forgives us when we are repentant. Second, He teaches us to be merciful to others, especially the least of our brothers and sisters, just as He would do. Third, He also expects us to teach others of God’s law and forgiveness so that they can benefit too.

The prochoice position approaches mercy from a different perspective. It seeks no forgiveness from Christ although one of the choices it promotes takes the life of one of His least children. Its concept of mercy toward others does not include them, as if it expects God to stand aside when they are killed. Finally, it expects prolife persons to refrain from teaching others of God’s law. That law is contrary to one of the choices that the prochoice position finds acceptable.

The essence of the prochoice position is not connected in relationships to God, His law, or others. While it speaks with compassion toward pregnant mothers in the rare cases where rape or incest caused the pregnancy or where a handicapped child results, it cannot undo the rape, the incest, or the handicapped child. At best, it can only stand by, in professed neutrality as to whether the child is killed or not. More frequently, the heart of the prochoice position is a professed compassion for the more common predicament of the pregnant mother in crisis: seemingly living on the edge of her financial capacity to make ends meet and lacking emotional support from the child’s father, who is all too often abusive to her. What distinguishes the prochoice position is that the lifeline thrown out to the mother in crisis is simply an invitation to cast away her unborn child, thereby destroying one of life’s most natural relationships.

Afterwards, when the aborted mother is overwhelmed that she has taken the life of her own child, the prochoice position cannot assuage her grief. What rips women apart emotionally after abortion is their just sense of the magnitude of what they did to their own children. What these mothers need is not a god who stands silent afterwards. That god is one whose heart is stone cold, no less an idol than those to which ancient civilizations sacrificed their unwanted, unplanned children. What these mothers need is the God who wraps His arms around those children and whose arms are big enough to enfold them too. Only the true Savior of the world can have mercy for abortion victims, their parents and even the abortionists.

Mercy in the prolife cause requires us to acknowledge that Jesus is the Savior of the aborted mother and the abortionist as well as the aborted child and us. Such a God can and does forgive each of us whenever we repent for transgressing His law. Abortion is not an unforgivable sin. Our actions are to be the image of Christ’s mercy. We are to be merciful in our actions toward aborted mothers and abortionists even while we come to the aid of the mothers who give birth to their children. Finally, we cannot stand silent while pregnant mothers consider abortion or aborted mothers experience emotional trauma afterwards. We must plead the cause of the children with conviction and we must help the aborted mothers come to Christ for healing.