Second Sunday in Lent
Moses and Elijah appeared and were speaking of his departure: The Euthanasia Debate
Last week we heard how the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert where he was tempted, and how we share in Jesus’ victory over the three temptations to selfishness that lead us to sin. This week we hear how the Spirit reveals the mystery of Jesus’ intimate relationship with his Father. We are also called to enter into this mystery!
But in both episodes it is easy to overlook Jesus’ human experience. For example, the Lord, like many young people, may have carried the burden of an uncertain future during those 40 days in the wilderness – what was he going to do with his life? Or perhaps he may have felt lonely like so many senior people in our society. Unfortunately we don’t know the content of much of Jesus’ human experience.
However, this week, one thing we do know is that Jesus was contemplating his Passover. It would be stupid to say he was planning his own suicide. But we can say pain, suffering and death was something Jesus had to come to terms with. Jesus, close to his death, cried out to the Father to take away the cup of suffering. But he submitted to being completely given-up and even to the giving up of his life on the Cross. We know it was horrendous and that he felt completely abandoned. We also know the fruit of this suffering is our salvation.
In the euthanasia debate do we see the truth that our suffering united to that of Jesus, is redemptive?
So what is euthanasia? Its the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. Some people think its okay to end life if suffering becomes too great. And they want assistance to end life.
The assisted suicide lobby will often present the view that helping someone else to end their life is the most loving and compassionate thing to do. Shouldn’t patients have the right to end their lives? Dignity in Dying patron, Sir Patrick Stewart has argued “We have no control over how we arrive in the world but at the end of life we should have control over how we leave it.”
How do we answer this? From a legalistic position we may say God prohibits our taking life, so no one has the right to end their life. But its rather more complicated.
It has been said that we can only make sense of our lives if we can make sense of our deaths. In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus made sense of his life specifically with his death in mind. And so it is with us.
Further, Archbishop Costelloe says, “We must be very clear that doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia are never acceptable in a truly compassionate society. Compassion is the ability of one person to accompany another caringly through their journey of pain and suffering.”
Dear sisters and brothers, as you wrestle with your position on the practice of euthanasia, either agreeing or disagreeing with it, note that assisted dying and palliative care are completely different practices. Palliative care does not include the practice of assisted dying. If we disagree with euthanasia/assisted dying, Archbishop has asked that we act. Bad laws are passed only when good people say nothing. Let your MPs know what you think.
Western Australia is currently debating whether we should change our laws to let a doctor intentionally end the life of a patient. We pray, O Lord, that our society realises that direct killing is not a legitimate medical procedure.
Lord hear our prayer.