by Jack Figge
Special to The Leaven
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before gathering at the National Mall with thousands of other pro-life advocates on Jan. 20, pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Salina were challenged by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann to be Christ-like in their witness for life.
Gathering at St. Dominic Church, located only half a mile away from the National Mall, members of the Archdiocese gathered for Mass in preparation for the annual March for Life, scheduled to take place later that day.
Concelebrated with other priests from the archdiocese, Archbishop Naumann felt that the Mass provided a perfect opportunity for members of the archdiocese to come together to prepare themselves for the March.
“The Eucharist is where we draw our strength from and that’s where we encounter Jesus and receive Jesus,” he said. “We’re marching today really, to proclaim his Gospel of life, that every life is precious. He revealed that on Calvary. That’s how much every human life means to him.”
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann reflected on the day’s Gospel, where Jesus commissioned the 12 apostles to go preaching and casting out demons in his name. The archbishop shared how Christ commissions each one of us as his apostle to go and build relationships with those around us.
“The way we evangelize is not through arguing, but through caring for them as God does,” he said. “You are called to build friendship with them. It is only through friendship that hearts will be changed.”
Archbishop Naumann also challenged pilgrims to not allow the March for Life to be a one-time experience, but to continue to be a witness for life through practicing authentic love daily.
“I want to give you a mission,” he told them. “That after you receive the Eucharist, ask the Lord who it is that you are asking me at this time to reach out to and show the love of Christ to back home.”
Inspired by the powerful call to build friendships, pilgrims were renewed to go out and be powerful witness to the Gospel of life through building up friendships back home.
“It is important to build friendships to make it through life,” said Brody Sedlacek, a student traveling with the Diocese of Salina. “I want to go home and try and become closer with my friends to help them learn more about Christ.”
Pilgrims like Ann Marie Alvey, the pro-life ministry coordinator for the archdiocese, found the Mass a powerful way to begin the day and prepare for the March as it served as a reminder to the importance of keeping God at the center of the pro-life movement.
“I think it is important to start out this effort with celebrating the Mass so that God is a part of the March,” she said. “God is a God of life. We are getting our inspiration and graces for what we are doing from God.”
To conclude Mass, Archbishop Naumann reminded the pilgrims to be powerful witness to the Gospel of life through joy and being the face of Christ to everybody one encounters not just during the March, but in daily life.
“Let us be joyful witness to the Gospel of Life,” he said during the closing rights. “Everybody we encounter, let us look at them with the eyes of Christ.”
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