In his homily, Bishop Ricken drew heavily from the writings of Pope John Paul II and his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (“Gospel of Life”), as well as the writings and wisdom of the saints. To begin, he pointed out that the meaning of life comes from the simple fact that it was created by the hand of God. For that reason all life is sacred and inviolable.
“This is how St. Gregory of Nyssa understands it. Man as a being is of no account. He is dust, grass and vanity, but once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son he becomes part of the family of that being whose excellence and greatness no one can see, hear or understand,” the bishop explained.
He continued by noting that it is only with eyes towards heaven that the struggles and pain of this life on earth make sense.
“It is with the touch of salvation, with the touch of the knowledge of God and with the very life and breath of God that leads to eternal life that our life begins to makes sense,” Bishop Ricken said. “Those who do not have eternity to look up to and to look forward to are left with busyness and left with the circles and circuitous routes of this human life.”
He called upon those present to heed the words of the church to proclaim the Gospel of Life to the far corners of the world.
“John Paul has made it clear and Pope Benedict reechoed that this evening in his beautiful message at vespers at the Vatican at St. Peter’s. We need to bring the Gospel of Life to every man and woman and to make it penetrate every part of our society,” said the bishop.
“That is why, brothers and sisters, you will hear me constantly reechoing the call of the church to the Gospel of Life and to protecting life from the moment of conception to natural death.”
In his concluding remarks the bishop said he was grateful for those who came to pray and noted the significance of this inaugural event.
“Thank you for coming this evening to spend an hour with Jesus. Thank you for coming this evening to honor the Lord by pledging yourself to defend and honor the Gospel of Life. I know we are a small crowd this evening but I think that probably the Holy Father will start a tradition that every first Sunday of Advent the evening vespers will be focused on throughout the world for the promotion of innocent or nascent life.”