The Gospel reading from Luke 14:15-24 is about the master of the house inviting many to dinner, but his invitation was refused over and over again because the invited guests had other things to do. As such, the Master sent his servant to many parts of the land where he could invite the lame, the crippled, the beggar. It is these "lowly" people who accepted the masters invitation and tasted the fine meal. Pope Francis remarks on this saying that God will not open our hearts if we refuse him. Why? Because "he respects our hearts," the Pope says. It is true, God gave us free will and respect our decisions, even if that decision neglects Him who gave us life. Don't get me wrong, God wants us; but he loves us so much that he respects us.
I haven't blogged in a while. I gave birth to my third child. Andrew Paul was born three weeks early, has Down Syndrome and spent 23 days in the NICU. Having been named for Christ's first and last Apostles, Baby Andrew is now a thriving 4 month old! St. Andrew and St. Paul were both evangelists; they drew others to Christ. My husband and I knew prenatally that our baby would be born with Down Syndrome. We were advised many times to terminate the pregnancy. We declined the invitation from Satan to kill our child and accepted the invitation from Christ to love our child. We turned our hearts against the Evil One and opened them in ways we never thought possible to the Almighty Risen Savior.
People with Down Syndrome are always loving and joyful. I first met a child with Down Syndrome when I was a teenager. The young child came up and gave my dad a big hug in the back of church. My dad looked and me and said, "You know Erin, people with Down Syndrome really are angels on Earth." As a mother to a child with Down Syndrome, I am so glad that this was my first encounter and that my dad reacted in such a loving and welcoming manner. I was able to draw on that experience when I found out during pregnancy that Andrew would have Down Syndrome. My dad showed me his openness of heart by accepting Christ's invitation and extending our Saviors love.
Baby Andrew is named for St. Andrew and St. Paul. St. Andrew was the first Apostle and introduced his brother, St. Peter to Christ. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament and was thus a major evangelizer. My prayer for Andrew is that he will use his infectious, happy personality to draw others to Christ. People with Down Syndrome have very open hearts and genuinely express great love. This love comes from Christ and it is easy to see why they are considered to be angels who walk the earth.
May our love of Christ always reverberate in the way that we raise our children. May it be central to our hopes and dreams for the generations that come after us. Don't be so busy in life that you refuse acts of charity that are a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Always accept Christ's invitation to love and care for others.