As we begin the preparations for our Lenten 40 Days for Life (Feb. 22 – April 2), I have been struggling a bit with “how much” faith is reasonable. It is getting difficult to find people to fill the hours later in the day and on Sundays and Mondays, and so I was considering condensing our vigil hours to make it more “practical”. Maybe do away with Sundays altogether? After all, the clinic is closed on Sundays…maybe we could stay home and take a break.
And then I watched episode 5 of season three of The Chosen. If you have never yet watched The Chosen, it is a crowd-funded streaming series on the life of Jesus and his public ministry. They plan to do 7 seasons (each with eight episodes), all the way through the crucifixion, resurrection and the birth of the Church. (You can watch it free by downloading the “ANGEL” app on your phone or your smart tv or Firestick.) Last Sunday, in episode 5, Jesus heals the woman with the hemorrhage of blood and raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead. It is amazing to see these stories, that we are so familiar with from reading the Bible…come to life as portrayed in The Chosen Series! I was moved to tears when I saw the FAITH that these people had in Jesus! The woman who had suffered with the hemorrhage of blood was desperate for healing. Jewish law was strict about the “uncleanness” of anyone with a discharge of blood, and so she would have led a lonely life similar to a leper…totally ostracized and unable to marry or take part in Jewish worship. This woman had heard about Jesus’ miracles and she was desperate enough to believe that He could heal her…but she knew that she was not permitted by law to approach him in her “unclean” state. In her desperation she decided to force herself through the crowd, even as people were screaming at her to get back…and practically dove through the sea of people so she managed to barely touch the tassel of his cloak as he passed by. She was immediately healed.
Jairus was a synagogue official who had also heard about the miracles and had come to believe that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. He had to be prudent however, because of his position in the synagogue…if it was discovered that he believed in Jesus, he could be put to death. But when his daughter became deathly ill and it was apparent that she was going to die, he risked his reputation (and his life), by seeking out Jesus and begging him to come and heal his daughter. When they arrived at his home, they saw the paid mourners and flute players outside of the house and realized that his daughter had died already. Jairus began to cry, but Jesus told him to “Have faith and BELIEVE!”. Jairus was desperate enough to have the necessary faith to overcome the scorn and ridicule of his own family, friends and neighbors as Jesus sent away the mourners, telling them to “Go away, the girl is not dead but sleeping! Because of Jairus’ desperate faith, Jesus was able to do a miracle as He whispered into the dead girl’s ear, “Little girl, ARISE!”
Ever since watching this episode, I have been thinking about the faith of the early Christians and the resistance and threats that they faced. They BELIEVED in Jesus, but it wasn’t just their belief that enabled Jesus to do miracles. It was their DESPERATION , in addition to their faith…that made the miracles possible!
This has me thinking about our 40 Days for Life in Pittsburgh. We DO have faith in Jesus…I know that. BUT…are we DESPERATE for God to end abortion in our city? Are we DESPERATE for the salvation of the souls of the abortion workers and the young moms and dads who are walking in there to have their children aborted? HOW desperate are we? Are we desperate enough to commit to a regular weekly time slot to go and pray on that miserable sidewalk during the 40 days? Are we desperate enough to go against the resistance that come from passersby, from abortion workers, abortion bound parents? How about the resistance that comes from our own friends and family, who see our commitment to pray at Planned Parenthood as a total waste of time? Most importantly, are we ready to face the resistance that comes from our own selfish will, as we resist the extra effort that it takes to get downtown and face the unknown…the little voice in our head that tells us we could be in danger, and it isn’t going to make a difference anyway…”so stay home and stay safe”?
We don’t face being stoned by our religious leaders, as the early Jewish followers of Christ did. But we face our own enemies…mostly within ourselves. It is easy to think that we are foolish to think that simply praying on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood could possibly bring an end to abortion. But as in another episode of The Chosen portrayed…the Ethiopian woman climbed to the top of the house where Jesus was teaching, because of the crowd…and actually REMOVED part of the roof in order to lower her friend down to Jesus…and a miracle occurred. Jesus looked up as the man was being lowered down and said to the woman, “Your faith is beautiful!”.
I believe He says the same thing to us when we do what appears to be foolish to the world: When we show up for our Eucharistic Processions to Planned Parenthood; when we stand in small groups on the sidewalk and pray; when we face ridicule, are ignored, shouted at…or worse. Jesus says that our faith is beautiful…and more importantly, our DESPERATE FAITH makes it possible for Him to do MIRACLES!!!
Did we ever think we would be beginning a Lenten 40 Days for Life without Roe? God certainly did a miracle on June 24th! We cannot ever forget that! We must continue in our desperate faith, and I believe we will see many more miracles than this! As Jesus said to Nathaniel, when Nathaniel proclaimed his belief in Jesus as Messiah, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! You will see Heaven opened and angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man!”
Jesus wants our FAITH, and He wants us to be DESPERATE. I believe He will do miracles when we respond in this way! Here is how we need you to respond during this upcoming Lenten campaign:
- DONATE to help us pay for security: We hope to have a security guard for all 40 days to keep our volunteers safe on the sidewalk. Checks can be make payable to 40 Days for Life Pittsburgh and mailed to 411 School Street, Verona PA 15147. If you need a receipt for tax purposes, the checks will need to be made out to PA Foundation for Life (with 40 Days security written in the memo section) and mailed to PCUC, 3050 Pioneer Ave, Pittsburgh 15226.
- Mark your calendars now to attend our KICK OFF EVENT on TUESDAY, FEB. 21st ! Meet at Divine Mercy Parish, Epiphany Church at 6:30 pm for a Kick-off Mass, and join us on a candlelit procession to Planned Parenthood immediately following Mass.
- Contact me if you are able to sign up for a particular time slot at the vigil, from Feb. 22 through April 2nd! Church sign ups, individual sign-ups, group sign-ups…ALL ARE NEEDED! You may sign yourself up at www.40daysforlife.com/pittsburgh, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Donna Goss at email@example.com
- We have a need for more shift managers and buddies! The following time slots still need a buddy: Mondays 10-11am and Mondays 3-5pm ; Saturdays 1-3pm and Sundays 1-3pm. Please email me if you can help!
Thank you for being part of Pittsburgh’s culture of LIFE!