They'll know we are Christians, by our love, we pray. But sometimes, all too often, what they see is something different. Heaven knows, it's typically our failures that get more attention. But the Notre Dame graduate doesn't have to remake Jesus into a "loving" and "caring" abortion proponent. If it is mercy that she seeks, it is at the heart of Christianity, not in a reinterpretation of "Thou shall not kill." Those kids may have goofed, but there is a life in her now. And that life deserves as much mercy as anyone.
We increasingly know way too much about the unborn to deny that.
And if she looks around enough, John Paul II and the beloved Mother Teresa were not alone as contemporary witnesses of a loving, caring, pro-life message. Christians abound who are loving and caring in their love and defense for life. The Sisters of Life in New York, religious women whose charism is protecting the most vulnerable among us -- the unborn, their families, and, yes, even past the point of delivery. The young men at the filled-to-capacity Pontifical North American College in Rome and closer to home at its domestic brother, the Josephinum, in Columbus, Ohio, forming "Spiritual Fathers for the New Evangelization." The young women Oprah noticed on her show, joining a convent in Michigan in shockingly healthy numbers -- and they're not alone. There is a renewal going on, one of service and catechesis -- one that, in many ways, defies the past few decades.
Christ said a little more than be nice to one another. We must do that. But we must also not walk away from other truths because it can be hard to stand against an evil. We must know what it is we say we believe.
Those kids in the back seat actually have a lot of love out there for them. And the most well-intentioned abortion activist is actually only affirming and feeding what has oftentimes become a moral mess.
We sure know the pursuit of unhappiness.
That night at GWU, a young man talked about his "reversion" to the Catholic faith of his family. A lot of what he saw in college was not the recipe for any kind of happiness. Confession changed his life. Knowing he wasn't the end-all changed his life. There is "freedom," he said, in seeking to know God's will. It's actually a relief to know that we are not each other's final judge. Now he works with college students, helping them sort through their own discernments about their lives. And on Saturday nights in the coed dorms.
On Good Friday, the culmination of the season that began with co-workers and commuters with those outward symbols of our sins -- ashes on their foreheads -- Christians reflect on our ignorance, on our bad witness, on our fallenness. And take comfort in the mercy of a God who knows us too well to condemn us because of our mistakes, as long as we are contrite, as long as we keep getting up to walk with Him -- and help one another do the same. On campus, in politics, on the stages of the University of Delaware, and in and out of the back seat.
You don't have to believe. But those who do, we ought to better embrace what we've been given. There may be no gift-giving this holiday. It's because we've got the best one yet: loving, caring mercy.
I know somewhere at Notre Dame they still teach something about that.