"Worldwide Sanctity of Life," Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, EWTN broadcast
October 8, 2006
Washington, New Jersey
[Dr. Keyes' remarks following a presentation of
Salvador Dali's "The Vision of Hell" painting]
Thank you very much.
I very often would have to start out my talk with a little bit of an apology, because I do plan over the next little while to spend some time reviewing realities that are not at all pleasant to behold, but, after all is said and done, since you've just been invited to take a look into hell, I can't imagine that anything I'm going to say will be more disturbing--though it does represent to us a challenge that ought to be as compelling, because, I believe that in a very true sense, we battle today with the forces of hell throughout our world.
We battle in home and family and community, in state and country and nations throughout the world, and we see those results. We're reminded of them all the time. The era in which we live seems never to be without those examples that ought to call our attention to the fundamental evil that stalks us wherever we might be.
I speak quite frequently and often on the subject of life, and the sad thing is that I'm never at a loss for a fresh illustration of the danger that this time poses to the life of the innocent. And at this moment, how could I be? In the wake of the terrible murders that we saw among the Amish people--a people known to all of us as representatives of one of the most pacific Christian ethics there is--any of the Amish folks murdered by another would represent the murder of innocents, the murder of a life that strives in every step to proclaim devotion to God by the walk of peace and respect for life. But the terrible crime that we saw was a crime that involved the death of innocents among the innocent--the youngest, the helpless, the young girls who were murdered. Who could fail to be repulsed by this spectacle of evil?
And yet, I hate to tell you this, but something like that drives home to us, because of our sensibilities, just what it means to take an innocent life.
I think God wants us to remember, also, all of those innocent lives that are claimed when we don't see it--sometimes in places far away that don't touch us, in wars, in famines, and other things sometimes induced by human greed and lust and wickedness, but also the death of those innocents that disappear without our ken because we do not wish to acknowledge their lives, even as here, in the United States, we now proclaim the right to do to death the infant sleeping in the womb.
And why is that? Because they don't look like us. Because they're not as developed, not as complex. Because this is a murder that we don't have to look at in a form that reminds us of ourselves.
And yet, in that form, as well, God speaks His word to us, even as He speaks a word to the world in each and every life that sits before me or listens to me around the world. We are, each and every one of us, a word sent forth from God. He speaks it. And it ought to command respect.
But in our world today, we are turning our backs on that reality, because we want to define everything in our own terms--and if you can't touch it, see it, taste it, use it, then it doesn't exist. We wish to turn our backs on the wonders of the invisible God.
If we wish to reclaim our respect for life, then we must reclaim our awe before that invisible majesty, that concept of God that reminds us that even in the things that seem to us small and undetectable, yet there may reside the awesome power that has made the whole universe, that has set the stars in their place and the planets in their courses, that has raised up the mountains, and that commands the universe.
I think that's one of the things that moves us, though we know it not, when we look at our children. I know, in my experience as a parent, it's something that struck me along the way, that there I was--a servant, really. And who was commanding me? Well, in the beginning, this little helpless baby. With practically a look, you could have wiped it off the face of the earth. Any one of my children came in that small, helpless little package. What power was there in this? All helpless, no possessions, no wealth, nothing--and yet, their faintest cry in the night commanded an instant response from me and from my wife.
You know why that is?
Because, in that package, we are actually confronting the will of Almighty God. He appears in the form of that child. And yet, that child--its cries in the night, its needs--represents to us an obligation to respect the word that God has spoken in the child's life.
Now, today, some people want to pretend there's some confusion about that, and pretend that somehow or another we get to decide about whether or not we should respect, and when we're going to respect, and so forth and so on.
I can see how folks who are without familiarity with the scripture and with the word of God might get confused about this, but the scripture's very clear about it. It's one of those reasons why I think debates that take place supposedly among Christian folks who claim they read the Bible and follow the Lord--debates about this subject always strike me as unfathomable, because you really have to ignore what the Lord has shared with us about Himself and about ourselves in order to ignore the truth that at every stage of life, from the moment of conception, we are confronted in every human child with the authority of God, commanding our respect for life that sleeps in the womb.
He said it to the prophet when He said, "Before I formed thee in your mother's womb, I knew thee."
Now, how could that be?
There was a time, by the way, when our human understanding might have had a harder time getting around that concept of how God's intelligence could know everything about us before there was even a moment of our existence, but it's interesting that as we scratch the surface of knowledge of God's universe, we actually come to the point where we can get our minds around these concepts a little more easily.
Imagine, if you will--I'm sure all of you by now, most of you, have had some experience with computers--you sit in front of the screen, you tap a little button, and there appears on the screen, could be a wonderful painting, could be a marvelous computer program, and so forth and so on. Now, before the moment that that complex image appears on the screen, every last detail of that image had to be conceived of and programmed into the software that works that computer. Is that not so?
That means that before there was even a moment of the existence of that image that you're looking at, the mind of the programmer had to apply its intelligence and had to know that image down to the last detail.
Now, if we simple human beings can get our minds around that little beginning of what it means, then surely the infinite intelligence of God ought to impress us with the truth, that as the programmer knows what's coming in the program, the Lord knew what was coming in your life, knew what you would look like and who you would be--and we are now more and more beginning to understand the process by which that knowledge manifests itself in the world of our understanding.
So, our increasing little knowledge confirms the truth we knew in the scripture: "Before I formed thee, I knew thee." Because God is telling us, "I made you. I know every little detail of how you work, not just in general as a human being, but in particular as the being you are and are going to be."
And the Psalm--139--tells us the same thing: "Where can I go to hide from God?" the psalmist asks himself. "I can't go anywhere, because you know all my ways. You knew everything about me. You fashioned me in the secret places of the earth. I was written out in your manuscript, and you knew all my members and all the days of my life before there was yet one of them."
That's one of the things that I try to remind people, from time to time, when I talk about why it is that we ought to respect that life in the womb, why it is especially incumbent upon people of Catholic faith and Christian belief to respect that life in the womb: because that life represents the articulate will of Almighty God from the moment of conception.
We say that all the time, but do we really understand? Because, you should follow that with a question, "Whose conception?"
We always assume that it's the moment of physical conception in the womb, but I've got news for you. Before He formed us in the womb, He knew us. He fashioned us in the secret places. He's like an author. He writes the manuscript in secret, where we don't know it and can't know about it, but it's all done, it's written out. Every last word of it is there. Before He forms us, He knows us, He writes us out, He fashions us down to the last detail, and knows the days and knows the numbers of hairs on our head before there is yet one of them.
And that means that that moment of conception is not the moment of conception in the womb, it's the moment of conception in the mind of Almighty God! It's a moment of conception that we don't have anything to do with, that He touches before we have been touched by it.
He prepares His manuscript in secret. He only publishes it in the womb.
We need to pause before that fact, though, because it is a fact that also reminds us of a glorious truth. Before I go on, I want to say that what I'm about to walk through is just my little way of conveying what I believe the fundamental truth ought to be of the movement to respect life in the world. People think that it's because we're against something. And, yes, I'm against going around murdering innocent people. That means I'm against abortion, and I'm against terrorism, and I'm against those who, for the sake of their lust and greed and power, will stomp out the life of innocent people rather than lifting them up so that they can lead better lives. I'm against all of that.
But I'm not against it to be against something. I'm against it because I am for the Lord. I'm against it because I respect the will of God. I'm against it because I have understood the love and mercy that the Lord shows us.
And, frankly, I don't see anything that could perhaps convey that wonderful consideration that God has had for us more than that reality of procreation. The act and the consequence of procreation--isn't it wonderful? It's wonderful what God has done.
After all, to our little understanding, is there some glory, some power that we associate with God that is greater than the idea that He can and did create the world and universe? Contrary to what King Lear says in Shakespeare--he says, "Nothing comes from nothing"--but he didn't know God. See, from the point of God, everything can come from nothing. With just a little word, it's all there, all done, all complete.
That wonderful power of creation is, for us, the epitome of what it means to be God. From the point of view of our little understanding, it is the crowning glory of that divine power.
And yet, what does He do? Well, think about yourselves. Each and every one of you, as you sit there, represents the capacity to reflect and reflect upon the whole of the universe. Within your frame, the stars shine and the mountains tower and the raging rivers run. Within your mind, you can conceive of all the wondrous majesties and powers that exist in God's created world. You are, as it were, a recapitulation of God's universe.
And isn't it something that He could have brought you here with just a wave of His hand, a word, whatever it might be? Without even a thought, as a matter of fact, you could have been the thought of God coming into life. But instead of doing it all on His own, what does He do? He makes us in such a way that we are invited to participate in this power of creation, to be the instrument of His hand as He brings new life into the world, so that in some small measure in act and consequence, we can participate in the wondrous glory that is God's divine creation of the whole.
I'd bet neither you nor I would have been quite that generous, but the Lord is generous indeed. That which constitutes the essence, from our point of view, of what He is, He shares with us.
And in the account of our creation, He tells us about it, too. The one thing that has struck me as I have over the years read and reread the account of Genesis--something that we are tending to forget these days as we abuse in our understanding the meaning of the distinction God has made between man and woman--but in the scripture, that distinction isn't just coincidental. It is absolutely essential to understanding, first, what we are, and second, what is our relationship in that beginning to God Almighty.
As He creates the world--you remember this?--He goes through, He creates all the different things, He divides the light from the darkness, the night from the day, He puts the planets in their courses, and so forth. And then He gets to the moment where He creates plants, and animals, et cetera. He comes to everything, and at the end of His creation, He looks at it and says, "That's good," and He goes on.
Now, what happens when He creates Adam? Well, if you remember the different stages that we go through, He creates Adam, fashions him out of the dust of the ground, breathes into him the breath of life, and then He kind of puts Adam to the test, doesn't He? Now, this was an exam that wasn't all that hard. He gives him an examination. He brings all of the beasts of the field, and the creatures of the ground, and the birds of the air and all of that, He brings them before Adam, and He wants to find out if Adam can recognize them. But it's not such a difficult test, because the scripture tells us that whatever Adam calls them, that is what they are called. I like a test like that--don't you? Whatever answer you give, that's the right one, so fess up.
And He puts him through this, and He goes through all of these possible creatures that might be like himself, and he finds amongst them not one like himself. It turns out that the naming wasn't the test after all. He was looking for something, and it was not to be found. And then the Lord puts him to sleep and takes a rib from his side, as the famous story goes, and out of that fashions the woman. And then, after all is said and done, and He brings the woman to Adam and presents her--and Adam recognizes her as the flesh of his flesh and the bone of his bone, then God says, "Well, that's good. I'm done."
It ought to tell us something. The scripture announces that at that point, the human being is finished. Before that, God had looked at him and said, "No, this is not good." "It is not good"--He says--"for man to be alone." Adam was an unfinished work. Humanity was not complete.
Now, is it a coincidence, do you think, two things: that, first of all, the Bible tells us, "Male and female, He created them. In the image and likeness of God created He them"--juxtaposing that completion of our humanity with the creation of Eve and with the reminder that we are made in the image of God--and, lo and behold, in consequence of that sexual distinction, He has shared with us what seems, to us, to be the crowning glory of His power, which is creation.
I don't think that's a coincidence at all. Through the creation of Eve, we come into that form that allows us truly to reflect the full and wholesome power of Almighty God: the power to bring life to life.
That tells us that in the service of life, we are not worried and concerned and striving and sacrificial because we're against something. We are for the mercy of God; for the love of God; for the generosity of God; for remembering that right there, from the very beginning, in the very soul of the soul of what He made us to be, He built into us His own capacity to love and share the gift of life.
Turn our back on that--and when I say "turn our backs on that," by the way, I don't just mean, as some might think, that we start reaching into the womb and dismembering the babies within, killing them in horrible ways, as we do with abortion (see, that's the ultimate fruit of our forgetting, but it's not the first fruit of it).
The first fruit of it is to forget the significance of that male-female distinction, to forget what it gives rise to in our nature as we know it, that it provides us, in this human form, with our access to that crowning glory of the Lord God before our understanding. We begin the process that leads to murder in the womb and in the world when we turn our back on that understanding of ourselves which God wanted us never to forget. That's why He put it on the first page of our existence: He made us in His image.
Every time we confront another human being, every time we see that a life comes to life, we are seeing, not just a face and a form, we are seeing the image of God, Himself. Respect that image, and you respect God. Care for that image, and you are caring for God, as He is represented through us. Turn your back on it, reject it, oppress it, brutalize it, and you are turning your back on God, Himself.
Christ told us this. He told us this in many ways ("As you do unto the least of these, you have done unto me")--trying to get us to see ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"), they are for you representatives of the standard of Almighty God.
And that's one of the reasons why we see, in all its manifest forms, the terrible evils that result from turning our back on this truth about ourselves.
Now, of course, we should have known this anyway, because this is one of the other insights, I think, that comes from the Genesis story. When the serpent comes to Eve--and this is after God has given them the instruction booklet for their life in paradise, and that instruction booklet includes a little description of what's there, including the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that's over here; the tree of life, that's over there; what to do with each one; the knowledge of good and evil, He says, "Don't touch that one, it's not good for you"--and then the serpent comes to Eve, and he says, "Well, you know, He just told you that, because He doesn't want you to have fun."
Where have we heard that before?
"Truth of the matter is, if you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then you will be like God." Isn't that what he says? "Ye shall be as gods."
What should Eve have said to him? Given what we know, what the scripture tells us about ourselves, what should Eve have said to him? The serpent comes to Eve and says, "Eat this fruit, and you'll be like God," and Eve should have looked at him and said, "I'm sorry, I'm already like God." See? "Why would I need to eat something to be like gods?"
She forgot herself. She forgot the truth of God within her. She turned her back on the image that God had already placed of Himself. The likeness that was there in her very being, she turned her back on it on a false promise that if she violated the will of God, then she would be like God--and yet, how can this be, when she was there in consequence of God's will? He had made a world fashioned so that her existence was possible. Contradicting His will, she contradicted the possibility of her own existence in relationship with Him, and so, paradise comes to an end.
And we--present as we are once again before the truth of that promise which God has made to us, that sending forth of Himself, which He made to us in the very beginning, and which He reiterated once again when He sent His Son to us, to tell us that we were not lost, that we could, in fact, be found, and yet in this world, too, in the very presence of that reiteration--so many now would turn their backs again on the truth that God has told us about ourselves, that we are like Him, that He is like us, and that we ought to live with respect for the truth that He dwells within us if we are willing to open our hearts to the truth of His presence.
See, I think that's the meaning of the pro-life movement, in all the forms that it takes. It's not a movement just about being against this evil and that evil. It comes from a heart that recognizes evil because it is in love with God, in love with His truth, in love with the generosity that He has shown to each and every one of us.
The question ought to be, then, "How do we translate that into action in our world?"
Today, we are called and we come together in order to join in prayer--in prayer for the sake of restoring that sense of the sacredness, the holiness, the godliness of this great gift of life.
But that confronts us with another question, doesn't it? What is prayer, after all? I think Christ forewarns us against believing that prayer is just a movement of our lips, because He makes it very clear that if you just spend your time moving your lips, then you have said the words, but you haven't necessarily prayed.
What does that tell you? Well, see, I think that if prayer is beyond the movement of the lips, then it also reminds us of what Christ Himself represents. Christ was the Word made flesh. That means that when we speak the words, their meaning must be clothed, and that clothing is provided by the sincere actions that we take to fulfill the hopes that we express to God, the pleas that we express to God.
We pray to God for peace. Do we ask ourselves if we, ourselves, are the source of that peace?
We pray to God for mercy and for love and compassion. Do we ask ourselves if we are the hand of compassion, the voice of compassion, the word of compassion to another in need?
We pray to God for justice. Do we ask ourselves if we are the instruments of His equity, His fairness, His respect for the human whole?
Do we ask ourselves that?
I would say this particularly as I stand in the United States, representing this idea that government should somehow involve people. They go to elections, and they vote for this or that representative, and so forth and so on. I think there's a certain appropriateness about that. Why? Well, government of the people, by the people, for the people. It reminds you that the justice in your world isn't somewhere else--that it depends on what you do; that the choice you make becomes the choices of your country; that the conscience you show becomes the conscience of your country; that the love you exhibit becomes the possibility of love in your community.
That is not a form of government, that's a way of life! That is not a form of government, that's a truth of our faith.
But if we're going to recognize that, then we're going to have to take on this burden of truth: if this nation and other nations where people can act are overshadowed with evil, we need to stop pointing the fingers somewhere else. We need to understand that as we come together today to lift up to God words of prayer, we must resolve to become the deeds of prayer, to make those words flesh, to offer ourselves to be His tools, to be His mouth, to be His courage in this world, showing forth in this darkness the light that He would share and that we pray to Him to share with all of humankind.
Well, that's nice as a generality, but what does it really mean? It means a willingness to do as Christ did.
In our era, and particularly in a country like the United States, you can forget that what Christ did as He walked the earth was to make Himself unpopular. Can I repeat that? He especially made Himself unpopular with the really powerful people.
In case you haven't read the scriptures and figured this out, in worldly terms, that's why He was put to death, because He got really unpopular with some people who controlled power in His time. And why was He unpopular? Because He kept saying things that upset them. They had a standard of political correctness, and He refused to abide by that standard. He listened, rather, to His Father. He listened, rather, to the word and will of God. He walked the walk that His Father required of Him--not the walk that would win the praise and the smiles and the comfort of those who could otherwise kill His body.
And He told us that this was the standard. "Don't worry about the people who can kill your body," He said. "Worry, instead, about the one who can destroy body and soul in hell."
The counterpart of that, which we seem to forget, is, don't believe the people who come to you with all kinds of promises about the gracious and wonderful things they will do for your body.
We are right now faced, in various parts in our country, with people who will offer us all kinds of goodies. They're telling us that if we only disregard the sacredness, for instance, of embryonic life--let them do their stem cell research, let them kill the embryos so that those human lives will be destroyed but that other human lives might be saved with research (now, partly that's false, because the real results, as you probably know, have come from adult stem cells, not from embryonic stem cells; they can get the same results, better results, and have gotten the real results in a way that respects life--but we'll leave that aside because we know the devil is the "father of lies." He's called that for a reason)--so, these folks come forward, and they're making all kinds of promises: "We will make the lame walk. We will make the blind see. We will make the deaf hear. We will make the old folks young. We will take those who suffer and lift them up."
They make all these promises, and all we have to do is disregard God's will. That's all we have to do. All we have to do is make that one little compromise, and we'll be doing it for the "sake of life," they tell us, see, because "we're going to make life better." And if we just kill this innocent life over here, if we just do that thing that God says is an abomination, then we can have all those wonderful things that they promise.
I wonder, sometimes, why we don't realize that Christ lived the life the way He did, told us the things He did, so as to give us guidance and instruction. There isn't a part of our walk that, if we think it through, He didn't walk first. Now, this part of our walk, He clearly walked. He went out into the desert--remember that?--and what was one of the things that the devil did to tempt Him? Took Him up in a high place, showed Him all the powers and principalities of the world, made a promise to Him, "I'll give you this. I'll give you everything that human beings dream of, everything possible. All you have to do is bow down and worship me."
When are we going to wake up to the truth of our time?
Here, in America, and other places around the world, the devil takes us up into his high places, promises us all the benefits, promises us all the goodies you can think of. He tells us we will have the pleasures and we will be relieved from pain, and we will have the cures and long life, and all we must do is fall down, and by our senseless murder of the innocent, worship him.
And you know the sad thing? Many folks who wear the Christian label, many folks who say that they are Catholics and wander the world, even in positions of high places, they tell us that we should accept that bargain, that that human calculus should be our guide, rather than the unfathomable, simple wisdom of the Lord, Who told us conclusively what we should do with these bargains when He told us this simple equation: "What doth it profit someone," He said, "to gain the whole world and lose His own soul?"
We should be asking ourselves this question every day, because the world is offered to us every day, so long as we are willing to make that compromise with evil that will destroy our soul as individuals, as families, as workers and business people, as professionals, and, finally, as nations.
I see it happening in America all the time now. We started out, in the United States--a country that was based on the idea "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," it's a beautiful thought, it's a truth, and that's what it was described as "We hold these truths to be self-evident"--and yet, everywhere we turn in America now, what's on offer to us? "All you have to do is forget that 'God' thing, and you'll be all right."
I live in a country where they actually tell us that--though we have a whole way of life based on the idea that rights come from God--we can't pray to Him in school, and we shouldn't talk about Him in politics.
Now, that's interesting. The very existence of our political life, the very possibility of voting and all of this, is based on the idea of equality that comes from this principle: that God Almighty made us equal in our claim to rights, and therefore government must respect that equality, must be based on consent; that you can't, just because you're more powerful and smarter and have more money, trample on the dignity and worth of other human beings; that your power and your will do not decide their worth, because it has already been decided by Almighty God.
Somebody tell me, though--if that's the premise of justice, what's going to happen if you forget that God exists? What's going to happen if you refuse to respect His authority?
Then all your claim to liberty--all your claim to rights, all your claim to dignity, all that protection for the courage of heart and soul that allows even the lowliest to stand against the mighty ones when what they do is wrong--will be lost to us.
Can you imagine a world where that courage is more needed than our world today? Because, if you can't, you have not looked into the face of terrorism, you have not looked into the brutal oppression that is occurring in Africa, in Asia, in countries around the world where peoples around the world are being trampled and done to death by those who claim the right to kill them because they are their superiors in arms, in money, in worth.
God has a different message--a message that reminds us that even in the lowliest child born in a manger, He can appear amongst us; that in every child sleeping in the womb, there are the prophets He knows before they are born, the words of truth to be spoken before we have heard them, the words of light to be given while we still live in darkness.
And that means that the prayers that we need to pray are prayers that go beyond just asking God for help and are prayers that open our hearts so that we may become the instruments of His aid--starting with the people we know, with family and friends, a willingness like the willingness of the Lord to be unpopular in God's truth, to risk our cross so that we can bear witness to the truth of the cross on which He died.
I think we are called to that prayer, in all our places, wherever we might be in this world today, and it is a call that is clear, especially to those who have met Christ along the way. How can we, in the Eucharist, welcome Him into our hearts without understanding that it was that heart for God that led Him to the stripes and to the wounds and to the crown of thorns, and to the crowning moment of His crucifixion, when, from a human point of view, all seemed lost and abandoned, and yet in that moment of surrender to His Father, God, He gained it all for all of us?
And we are called to do the same, in all our walks, in all our ways. And that, in the end, I believe, is our real respect for life.
That word "respect" is interesting. It has as Latin root, respicere, and, as I recall, it means to look at something again, to see it over again. So, you see it the first time, and you see it again in a new guise.
God has given each and every one of us life. We first appear in the helpless guise, calling on others for help, needing others for everything we do. But then we are asked, in all our different ways, to see it again--to see it again as parents, when it is our aid that must be given, our time that must be sacrificed, our hearts that must be laid on the line, our love that must be offered, to give it again.
When we see that life that is broken, and are asked to lift it up; that life that is hungry, and we are asked to feed it; that spirit that is dead, and we are asked to remind it of the life that God has on offer and that will never die--that's real respect for life.
As we live, and as we walk, and as we live out that relationship with God in all the things we do, we and others may see His life again, may see His love again, may see His sacrifice again, may see again His rising to glorious resurrection on the promise of His Father, God.
That's what we are called to be.
It's not easy in this world we live in, and sometimes it may indeed require that we give it all. But you know what Christ was clear about? He said that "he who loses his life for my sake will gain eternal life." And is that not the real aim and purpose--to be rejoined to that truth with which we began?
Before Eve and Adam put the leaves in front of them and stood all fearful before God because they knew they were naked, then they knew themselves in true relationship, as one with God, their Father--as children of His will, protected, and therefore not fearful of the world around them.
We are called to live toward that reality, which God made and will make again when He makes all things new. But that renewal began in earnest with Christ upon the cross, and may continue with us, as we walk the walk, as we preach the word, as we share the love, as we bear the cross in the lives that we can share with others.
So, as we sing today and pray today, I hope all our songs and prayers will give us the resolution to pray in earnest when we leave, to pray with the steps we take, to pray with the love we share, to pray with the words of witness that we speak when it matters, and to do so with the courage that comes from knowing that beyond our crucifixion will come the resurrection of God's eternal life for us.
With that confidence, can we fail? I think not.
In that confidence can we live? With great abundance.
For, the life that is lived in the courage that disregards the one who can only kill our bodies, that remembers the one who can offer us ever-renewing life, that life is lived with the courage that will be rewarded, not by our own fruitfulness, but by the fruitfulness of our Lord--and then He'll be there at the end.
At what seems to us to be the end, we will find that darkness is light, we will find in that seeming loneliness His hand, and we'll feel it, and He'll lift us up, and we will know that we're not alone. And we'll hear Him talking, and not to us. He will introduce us, I think, by name--by a name that we may not recognize, because we haven't heard it before--by the true name, the name by which God calls us to Himself. And we will hear that name spoken by the voice of our Lord, and He will say to His Father, "This is the one I told you about. She is my sister. This is the one who fed me and clothed me, who fought for me and lifted me up, who opened my prison, unshackled my heart and helped me along the way. And he is my brother. And, Father, they have come home."
And home we shall truly know--not because we have been rich and powerful, not because we have won elections and presided over mighty businesses, but simply, as Mother Theresa reminded us, because in the ways we can, we have been faithful to the Lord. And in that faithfulness shall come the reward that cannot die, because it lives with God forever.
God bless you.