We cannot march, so why not walk?
I am writing this reflection on the day when a huge crowd had hoped and planned to march in defense of life through the streets of downtown Edmonton. Like others elsewhere in Canada, the 2020 Alberta March for Life has been cancelled due to the restrictions on movement imposed to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
We can, however, walk, not in crowds, of course, but as individuals and families. In fact, that is happening a lot right now, as people grow impatient with staying inside and long to step out into the spring weather. I’ve been doing the same. As I walk along city paths, I overhear others – from a safe physical distance, of course! – talking about any number of things. Politics seemed to be a common theme last evening, for some reason. When we walk, how about praying instead of speaking – praying for life?
In the Gospel passage assigned for this day – May 14th – Jesus speaks of the extraordinary power of prayer (cf. John 15:9-17). What he says is this: “the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” The key here is “in my name”. To pray in the name of Jesus is to offer petition to God out of a deep communion of love with our Lord. It is to pray, in other words, as Jesus prays, to will as he wills. Jesus, we know, wills only one thing, which is that the will of the Heavenly Father be done. That will is life! God, the Author of life, has sent His Son and Holy Spirit to save lives from the powers of evil arrayed against them. The death and resurrection of Jesus is proof positive that this life-saving and life-affirming will of God wins out over evil. The ultimate victory belongs to God.
For this reason, praying in the name of Jesus inspires us with unshakeable hope. It is easy to become downcast when we think of the headway being made by proponents of abortion and euthanasia. Theirs, however, is not – is never! – the last word. It cannot be. The last word belongs to God, whose will in favour of life is invincible. When we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, that His will be done, we have the certainty, based upon the promise of Jesus himself, that the Father will hear our prayer and answer.
So, let’s walk and pray. Restrictions on physical movement can in no way constrain our determination to serve the cause of life. We know that, apart from Jesus, we can do noting (cf. John 15:5). Prayer in union with him, however, can accomplish all things. That is the reason for our hope.