December 05, 2018

Threefold Uniqueness from Day One

By Luke Burgis *
The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bruno.
The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. Credit: Jeff Bruno.

In September, we invited world-renowned painter Igor Babailov—the artist behind official paintings of Pope Benedict XVI and several world leaders—to the Busch School of Business to teach our students how to draw.

On the first day of class, Igor ripped a large sheet of paper out of his sketchpad, crumpled it up, and tossed it on a wooden crate under beam of light. “Look at this form,” he said, ”the curves and creases, the way the light shines on it and creates shadows.”  He rolled up his sleeves and paced the floor. Then, in a solemn tone (to which his Russian accent gave even more gravity), he added, “This form, this reality, will never happen again. It’s unrepeatable. If we don’t draw it, it’s lost to the world forever.”

Igor wasn’t interested in teaching us merely how to draw. He wanted to teach us how to see—an essential skill for any business student (who must see the human person who is at the heart of business), but a grave responsibility for those who hold life and death in their hands: pregnant mothers, medical professionals, lawmakers, judges, and all of us who march for life because we are the arms and legs of those who cannot yet march for themselves.

The theme for this year’s March for Life, “Unique From Day One”, is represented with a fingerprint (the same symbol on the cover of our new book, Unrepeatable, about the responsibility to cultivate the seeds of life that begin at conception). Everybody knows that each person has a unique set of fingerprints. Yet these are only biological markers. They point to something much more important.  

The late Pope John Paul II said that “the body, in fact, and only the body, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God, and thus to be a sign of it.”  

In other words, when we see a body, we are seeing more than a body. And when we see a fingerprint, we should see more than just a fingerprint. Our biological lives point to a mystery hidden from eternity in God.

I am pro-life. But I am not just pro-biological life. I am pro-Life (with a capital L) because Life is more than biology.

There are three different forms of life that each person is created for. The Greek of the New Testament uses three different words for “life” to express this reality.  

The first word, bios, refers to biological life. It’s where the term “biological” comes from.  The scientific evidence is overwhelming that every biological life is unique from day one.  It is a scientific fact that a new organism, with its own DNA, exists after fertilization and did not exist before.

The second Greek word used to refer to life is psuche, which refers to the life of the soul: the mind, emotions, heart, and will. This life, too, is unique and unrepeatable. Each of us has a rich interior life and a story that needs to be told.

The tragedy of abortion is that it’s not only the loss of a biological life; it’s also (and always) the loss of a story. It’s the loss of a vocation—the call of a person to live out and manifest to the world a singular aspect of God, whom they image in a way that no one else ever has and no one else ever can.

Lastly, the third Greek word for life in the Gospels is zoe. Zoe refers to the divine life, the uncreated life of God himself, which all of us are called to participate in. This is the word that John uses in the opening lines of his Gospel: “In Him was life (zoe), and the life (zoe) was the light of men.”

Even the way that a person shares in this divine life, this zoe, is unique because everyone has a personal relationship with God.

So when we see a fingerprint, let us remember that it’s only a thin surface, a window into the splendor of Life—biological, spiritual, and divine—that each of us, including the unborn, was created to share in.

Those who defend abortion are not bad people. They need our prayers to have their eyes opened. To see.  

For this, the blind beggar Bartimaeus, who prayed, “Lord, grant that I may see,” gives us a model.

On this March for Life 2019, let us pray that all people have the eyes to see life—all three forms of it.

Luke Burgis is Director of Inscape and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Ciocca Center for Principled Entrepreneurship at CUA.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.