June 27, 2008

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Be ready!

Sean GallagherMy family and I recently spent some time at a nearby park on a beautiful, sunny spring day.

We flew a kite, had a picnic lunch and our two eldest sons had fun on the park’s playground equipment.

It was an ordinary family outing until the end. My wife, Cindy, had just told Michael and Raphael to wrap up their play because we were leaving in five minutes.

That’s when a car pulled up near where we were standing. A woman about the age of my wife and I got out with two young toddlers. After we engaged in some idle chit-chat for a few moments, the woman told us that she was from northern Indiana and had brought her younger sister to a nearby abortion facility to have that procedure.

She told us that, although she didn’t approve of her sister’s choice, she had paid for it. Understandably, she seemed to be feeling quite a bit of stress. Maybe that’s why she started speaking to us, whom she had never met before, about such a serious topic.

As Cindy and I were attentive to this woman, we weren’t disinterested listeners. We believe strongly that a person’s right to life begins at conception. We are also convinced that abortion, far from helping women, actually ends up scarring them in body, mind and spirit.

But we didn’t enter into the conversation as if it were a debate. In fact, I should explain that it was Cindy who talked with and listened to the woman because I felt that she would benefit more from a one-on-one conversation with another woman about this topic.

As I watched our sons, who ended up getting nearly another hour of playtime, I came by periodically to see how things were going.

Cindy listened to all the woman had to say. Every now and then, she would also try to persuade her, with care and compassion, to return to the facility to talk her sister out of the abortion. Cindy let her know that there were lots of people both in Indianapolis and where she lived that would help her sister and would even be willing to adopt her unborn child.

In the end, the woman said that any attempt to persuade her sister in that direction would be fruitless. She ended up leaving the park around the time that she thought her sister would be discharged.

My point in recounting this story isn’t so much to make a pro-life argument or, much less, to put my family up on a pedestal.

Rather, what happened to our family recently should remind all believers to be ready at all times.

We need to be ready to let our faith shine forth in our words and deeds. We need to be ready to share the Gospel with those who need to hear it. Most of the time, these opportunities will come upon us in the ordinary events of everyday life.

But when people come our way who need help of any kind, we should consider that it is Christ himself who is before us: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Mt 24:44).

We shouldn’t be nervous about this. God will give us the grace we need to be good witnesses of his love.

Neither do we need to be concerned about how successful we are in sharing that divine love. Cindy and I have no idea what happened to the woman we spoke with, and to her sister, after she left us.

The important thing is that we tried to be faithful to the Gospel in a way that showed love to a sister in need. That is all God would ever ask of any of us. †

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