ON THE VALUE OF LIFE

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen




While I was staying in Nepal, tragic news came from my home in the Philippines. Lawyer and human rights advocate Al Surigao, a colleague in our church ministry, was gunned down by three armed men who entered into his house, greeted him with "Sir" and shot him in the head in front of his wife and children. Amando Anosa, an active pastor and civic leader, groomed to be a political figure in the province of Samar and active in the cause for human rights, was found near a bus station bathed in his own blood, dead from bullet wounds. Noel Villalba, a young community organizer and an ecumenical leader within the National Council of Churches in the Philippines was abducted and tortured. And recently, Minda Gran, a dear friend and pastor in Mindanao, was shot dead in her own house along with her husband, in front of their two children.

Death and suffering is everywhere. But when news of the deaths of friends or co-workers comes to us, it is a shock and a tragedy. It brings into high relief the value of life when it can so easily be wasted by human cruelty. We treasure life most clearly in the process of nurturing a life from the womb to full maturity. A mother rejoices in the conception of life in her womb. She relishes the opportunity to nurture the fetus for nine months, showering it with prayers for a safe arrival. And when the birth comes, the parents are strangely motivated to arise in the middle of the night to care for the infant. The weariness of parenthood seems an easy burden. Parental instincts empower one to make any sacrifice required, just to see this life grown to its full potential. How valuable life is that it has to be lovingly nurtured!

The opportunity to parent a child enables one to see the profound value of life. But even the experience of going through the process of growth ourselves enables us to see the sanctity of life. By nature we want to preserve our body from injury and disease and experience the thrill of growth. How valuable life is that we need to keep and protect it!

Jesus himself as Lord went through the same process of being parented and nurtured, of going through the same stages of human growth from conception to birth, maturity and death, of affirming family responsibility, and of nurturing and caring for life. He experienced the painful and complex process of growing from childhood to adulthood, all the while living a holy life. This is why I adore him as Lord.

But more importanly, I adore him because he profoundly identifies with those like my friends in the Philippines who have suffered grief, broken spirits, and death. Jesus lived the same life in a world where, despite of all human goodness, inhumanity abounds. I love Jesus
because he did not allow himself to be forever buried by this evil. Instead, he conquered death. He showed to us the way to overcome forces of inhumanity. And the promise of Jesus`resurrection is that resistance to devilish inhumanity can finally triumph. Our duty is to shape our lives according to Jesus`way of love.

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