You can listen to the Gospel and Sunday homily here.
The bulletin article follows:
Last week and this coming week, I am doing a series of seminars around the Diocese on End of Life issues, touching on decisions that often confront individuals and their families as they approach the latter portion of life on this earth. I’ve given seminars like these a number of times over the years, so much of the material I present remains the same from session to session.
This year, however, especially as I have prepared for this round of presentations, I have found it necessary to focus a bit more attention on one particular topic, that of euthanasia, and it’s partner, physician-assisted suicide. The fact is that in our own nation, the practice of actively ending the life of the suffering person, either by their own hand or by others, is becoming more acceptable. Less than 25 years ago, physician-assisted suicide was illegal throughout our nation. This changed in 1994, when the state of Oregon made it legal for a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of medication, which his patient could then use to end his or her life. Since then, other states have followed suit, including Washington, Colorado, California, Montana, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Efforts continue across the nation to legalize the practice in other states. In 2016, physician-assisted suicide was legalized in Canada, and in the first year, over 1300 people ended their lives through this practice.
These practices of actively causing the death of a human being are usually promoted as victories for self-determination, empowering people to take control of their own lives. Yet when one looks to Europe, one sees evidence that it is more than that. The Netherlands has been practicing euthanasia for over 30 years, first by simply not prosecuting offending physicians, and then by making it legal. Victims of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have gone from being only the terminally ill to also include the chronically ill, the physically ill or disabled, the mentally ill, and now what is called the “termination of the patient without explicit request” — killing those who have not asked to die. Belgium, to the south, now allows euthanasia for the terminally ill and the mentally ill, and in 2016, made it legal to euthanize children. Last year in the Netherlands, a physician gave a lethal injection to a 41 year old alcoholic father of two, who could not stop drinking.
No one wants to endure suffering. No one wants to be a burden to their loved ones. Yet sometimes, life is just that way. We Catholics believe that we are stewards, not owners of our lives, and are answerable to God for the way in which we live, and how we die. Illness and the anxiety of imminent death do often obscure human dignity, but they cannot erase that dignity. Jesus said, ‘When I was ill, you cared for me’.