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Peters: Respect Life Month, story of Lazarus remind us not to turn a blind eye to those most vulnerable

October is Respect Life Month, when the church comes together to remind people of the importance to stand up for those who are most vulnerable in our society. Every year, more than one-half million children are killed through the evil act of abortion, with the vast majority taking place for no reason other than it being a so-called “choice.”

Since the infamous Roe v Wade ruling, over 50 million children have been killed, and yet so many of us turn a blind eye to this practice because we would rather do what is easy instead of doing what is right. We are like the rich man who ignored poor Lazarus who was in need.

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In Luke 16, we are told that Lazarus was poor and in great need, and yet the rich man ignored his pain. When both died, the rich man burned in Hell as Lazarus was welcomed into paradise with Abraham. When the rich man asks Abraham for a moment of respite, Abraham says in 16:25, "remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented."

If the rich man was punished for ignoring Lazarus’s suffering, then how much will those who ignore the plight of the most innocent be punished? How could God accept those who terminate someone else’s life merely out of convenience? Christ’s message is clear: we are called to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

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After all, Lazarus was only one man who was neglected compared to the millions of babies who have been aborted. And the rich man who acted selfishly is like all of us who are willing to do the same, caring only about our desires instead of saving the life of others.

There will always be those who justify their actions with ignorance, but Christ makes it clear that feigned ignorance can never be an excuse. When the rich man asked Abraham to warn his brothers to save them from the fire, Abraham said that they were already warned. He then pointed out in 16:31: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”

Although the rich man could not accept God’s commandments to care about the less fortunate, Christ was using his failure to warn us so we could avoid his fate. It is not enough that we are not the ones causing harm, as our neglect makes us culpable in the evil acts.

Having a month dedicated to the pro-life movement reminds us that we are called to action, to not stand idly by, as the most vulnerable among us continue to suffer. As long as this grave injustice continues, we all share in the blame, and it is important that we act now before it is too late.

Jeffrey Peters, a graduate of Catholic University with a doctorate, attends St. Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Manchester. Reach him at 17peters@cardinalmail.cua.edu.

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