Beaten, bruised and dying on the cross, Jesus sees his mother and the disciple whom he loved, standing at the foot of the cross. Mary mirrors her son’s self-emptying love throughout her life, but in the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, proclaimed this Good Friday (John 18:1-19:42), we feel her heartache keenly.
Self-emptying love is our call, as well, as followers of Christ on our pilgrim journey on this earth. We express self-emptying love when we die to self, give of our precious time to serve a meal to the hungry, stock a food pantry or support a parish food drive. We express self-emptying love when we forgo a favorite activity to spend time with someone in the hospital, the nursing home, in assisted living or even down the street.
We express self-emptying love when we listen patiently and attentively to another person or group of people we consider difficult, annoying or with whom we do not agree. We express self-emptying love in writing thank-you notes, messages of encouragement and sympathy.
We express self-emptying love by creating and adhering to family rituals. “When families create strong, daily rituals for working, playing, talking and praying together, they model how to have a healthy, balanced, Christian life,” observes Greg Popcak, executive director of the Peyton Institute for Domestic Church Life.
We express self-emptying love when we make space for God in prayer, when we educate ourselves about issues that affect the common good and when we advocate for legislation that will help others to thrive. The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC), for example, is asking us to support the Iowa MOMS (More Options for Maternal Support) bill that has passed the Iowa Senate. This bill is a priority because pregnant moms and new moms in need “deserve more access to meaningful assistance and support when they need it most” (ICC Capitol Update, April 11). Pregnant women who choose life, no matter the difficulty of their situation, are expressing self-emptying love.
The bill, Senate File 2381, would provide reimbursement for cribs, clothing, formula, diapers and safety devices such as car seats as well as counseling, referral and care-coordination services. Pregnant and new moms would be eligible for housing and employment assistance during pregnancy and for up to one year after birth. Classes to prepare for pregnancy, birth, parenting, adoption, nutrition, life skills and employment readiness are other services included in the bill. SF 2381 would also extend Medicaid services for new mothers for a year after the birth, rather than two months, helping to ensure access to quality prenatal and postpartum care, which will result in healthier pregnancies and birth outcomes.
Only life-affirming agencies that do not refer for or perform abortions would qualify for funding. Many women, faced with a crisis pregnancy, fear they will not find the necessary social services, family support and financial resources. “We have a responsibility to help women with real options and support when they are pregnant,” ICC Executive Director Tom Chapman says.
The proposed bill would allocate $1 million for the new pregnancy services program and $5.6 million for the additional Medicaid costs for FY 23 and $8.9 million for FY 24. Iowa legislators say the bill would help foster stability for families and promote improved pregnancy outcomes, including reducing abortions. It would improve family economic self-sufficiency by linking parents to services that address individual and social needs. These goals support the common good. Contact your legislators through the ICC action alert
(https://iowacatholicconference.org/voter-voice/) to support the bill.
The Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf is among the agencies that could benefit from the legislation. In a recent newsletter, the center’s executive director Linda Rubey told about a newlywed couple expecting a child. They worried about how they would manage financially because the husband had a new job and did not yet have insurance benefits. This couple, among 965 women/families who have visited the center so far in 2022, chose self-emptying love by giving their child life.
Mary chose self-emptying love when she said “yes,” to becoming the mother of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose self-emptying love is the gift of our salvation. We express self-giving love in gratitude to Christ and his mother.
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor