In the 16th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke there is the parable of Lazarus who, hungry and covered with sores, begged for food at the gate of the house of a rich man. Lazarus “longed to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table,” and “even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Apparently Lazarus never got any of the rich man’s table scraps, and died.
But there were two deaths. The rich man died too.
Their post-mortem destinations were very different. Lazarus was carried by the angels to the very bosom of Abraham. The rich man, who had “feasted splendidly every day” but was too selfish to give poor Lazarus even a few leftovers, was dispatched across “a great abyss” to the “abode of the dead where he was in torment.” Great torment. A kind of eternal heart burn after years of fine dining… and selfishness.
The rich man calls out to Abraham to send Lazarus to touch his parched tongue with only a wet finger. Abraham refuses. Decisions have consequences.
Then he calls out to Abraham again, pleading that he at least warn his five brothers to repent. But Abraham again refuses, saying that they have the prophets. The rich man, realizing that his proud and stubborn brothers need more, answers that he is sure that if someone “would only go to them from the dead, then they would repent.” However, Abraham knows the truth. “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if one should rise from the dead.”
Parables are old stories about timeless truths and human weakness that get “replayed” in every age. As is so frequently the case, one place where there is almost always a parable in action is in front of an abortion facility, and the story of poor Lazarus is a good pro life parable.
When I have been able to participate in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. I have always been impressed by the testimonials of women who have had abortions. They stand before thousands of people and recount their tragic and horrible decision to kill their own flesh and blood. They stand there and bare their souls, telling total strangers of the grief and the guilt which they have endured and carried through life because of it.
I watch the same courage weekly at the local abortion facility here in North Texas. Some of my fellow pro life workers have had abortions, and they know all too well the costs of their decision. They stand on sidewalks in front of the death chambers week after week telling the abortion seekers the truth. These brave women relate their own personal pain and suffering from having done precisely what the pregnant mother in front of them has come to do.
They may do this because it is part of their healing, and I hope that they find healing and comfort in doing it. But they mainly do this because they want to save other children from death, and to save other mothers from the same torment that they have endured.
They want the abortion-seeking women whom they encounter to be able to look at other mothers and the children of other mothers without always replaying that awful day at the abortion facility. They want each mother to be able to look into the eyes of her own child and never see the face of two children, the one alive in her arms and the one dead, killed that tragic day because she willed her own child’s death.
I see them telling the young mothers what their decision will really mean. They describe the pain and the anguish that they will endure for the rest of their lives. They beg them, in effect, to repent of their decision to kill their children. They beg them to grant the child in their womb the food of life from their table of life.
And these young mothers who come to the abortion facility to kill their children are not just in the presence of “prophets” telling them the truth, though if a prophet is one who speaks God’s truth, then they are indeed they are indeed among prophets. These young women have before them women who have come from the dark abode of those who have killed their own children, and they have come with a message of life.
Sadly, as in the parable, most of the abortion seekers will not allow themselves to listen to either a prophet or someone who has risen from their guilt and the tragedy of killing a child and come to warn them of the danger. However, some will listen, and neither the lives of those who are innocent nor the souls of those who considered evil will be lost. Yet even for those women who do not listen, as these prophets prove by their own example, there is always hope. The mercy of God is boundless.