Sunday, September 27, 2009

BEATITUDES, BABIES AND BASEBALL: The Pure-Hearted Shortstop

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." Matt. 5:8.

Like the players on a baseball team, the beatitudes perform together. The actions of one lead to the others. This essay here considers the last of the middle three beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount in Chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel. Each essay examines a beatitude in three relationships: our relationship with God, with His laws and with others, particularly the least favored of humanity. Each begins with mention of a famous baseball player who demonstrated some characteristics of the beatitude. Can you recognize the player before reading his name?

This shortstop won back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player Awards when his team finished no higher than fifth place. Though he slugged over 20 home runs 13 times and finished his career with 512 home runs, he never played in the World Series. Through thick and thin, he always focused on what was good. His most famous, oft-repeated saying is, “What a great day for baseball. Let’s play two!” He is known, loved and respected as Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

The Spirit abides in the pure in heart. When the Spirit abides in us, we are overflowing with a love of His law which directs our inner thoughts as well as our external actions toward others, but most especially the least among us. The pure in heart see life in the Spirit as a wonderful feast of the most delicious dishes prepared by the most skilled chef. Though others may choose less desirable meals, some downright poisonously filled with rat poison, the pure in heart keep focused on what is good and direct all their attention to that good.

The prochoice position sees life from a different perspective. It rejoices not in the delicious banquet, but in the fact that people can choose the rat poison instead, if not for themselves, then at least for their smallest offspring. It sees that decision as a private matter which no one should dare to deprive anyone of. It claims too that all such private choices are to be respected equally. Privacy instead of purity is the principle the prochoice position guards.

In the prolife cause, we should strive to be pure in heart. We must recognize that the root cause of abortion is an inner spiritual struggle where the participants must first deny the unborn the dignity of being considered fully human. If the Spirit is to abide in our hearts, however, there is no room there for us to deny anyone that dignity. There is no room for sex outside of marriage which deprives people of purity in their own bodies. There is no room for pornography which denies respect for the other persons used. There is no room for sexism and racism which deny dignity to whole classes of people. Our inner thoughts as well as our external actions must keep focused on what is good. Let us taste this most wonderful feast of life in the Spirit prepared for us and help others to do so likewise. When they are tempted to sample the rat poison, let us be the ones to say, “No, have a taste of this good delicacy instead. In fact, let’s have two.”