How much pain and suffering we can hear here!
My Brothers and Sisters! If Job lived in Belgium most likely he would be offered euthanasia to shorten his mental and spiritual suffering. Do you think that I am exaggerating? A couple of years ago a Dutch woman was euthanized for severe depression although she was in a good physical health.
Euthanasia, literally “happy or good death” means “an act or method of causing death painlessly, so as to end suffering.” Sounds beautiful, does it? However do you know where euthanasia is legal right now? Of course Belgium, and two other countries: Netherlands and Luxemburg. Can you think what they have in common, I mean these three countries? They are not big countries; the Netherlands is the biggest with its population of 17 million while Luxemburg has got only 500 thousand residents. At the same time they are among the wealthiest countries in the world. How come that they need to kill their sick and elderly citizens? Can’t they afford providing them with care and painkillers? I don’t think so. They are not lacking medical resources like Africa does, but they are lacking faith. The Netherlands is considered one of the most secularised countries in Europe and the Belgium is not far behind. It is the matter of lack of faith. When God is pushed out of the picture the human being becomes a vegetable, a burden, a creature dehumanised or lacking dignity due to illness or the old age. The first thing people do after they have denied God his right to guide their hearts and minds is stripping another human being, usually the most vulnerable ones: the sick and the aged, off the their right to be loved and cared until their natural end.
Here, in this situation we hear the words of St Paul form the second reading: “Preaching of the Gospel is the duty which has been laid on me.” Don’t just think that Paul means increasing numbers of members of the Church. St Paul reminds us that the Gospel is hope, joy and peace for all people.
Those who were blessed to be old enough to listen to talks in the Fifties and Sixties should remember Fulton Sheen, an American Bishop, who would run his weekly show on TV presenting various topics of the Catholic Faith. Can you remember the title of the show which attracted non-Catholics as well? Life is worth living. Not only when you are fit, healthy and handsome but also when you need others to move around as your strength is failing you. That’ is what we Catholics want to offer to the whole world: LIFE IS WORTH LIVING.
Those who say that euthanasia is an act of mercy and compassion simply lie. Then they accuse us, Christians, for being cruel and not understanding people’s suffering. But if you feel guilty for not supporting euthanasia think of this: now in the Netherland one in 30 deaths is from euthanasia. I don’t believe that all those people choose to die because they are in unbearable pain that cannot be managed by 21st century medicine. How many of them choose euthanasia because they have been abandoned by their families, told that they are a burden or that they are selfish expecting to be looked after when they are “useless”?
The son of the woman I mentioned at the beginning never paid much attention to the discussion about voluntary death in his country. “I was like just about anyone else here in Belgium: I didn’t care at all,” he said. “If people want to die, it’s probably their choice. It didn’t concern me.” It didn’t, until he got a message one day after his mum was killed, to collect her body. Think for yourself if you can afford to be silent and indifferent in this matter.
To finish I would like to explain when medical treatment can be refused or stopped. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read “Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of ‘over-zealous’ treatment.”
A person has the right to meet a natural death in peace. We are not obligated to use extraordinary means to maintain life at any cost. Christian faith holds that death is not the end of human existence; rather, it is a transition to a new, glorious life with the risen Lord. Christians also believe that the evil of suffering can be transformed into something good when it is joined to the redemptive suffering of the Lord Jesus.
Living does make sense and dying does make sense when there is Jesus Christ in the picture.