At the conclusion of a recent Pro-Life conference in my diocese, I heard a participant say, “We really are a ragtag army, aren’t we?”
Indeed. I was immediately reminded of Gideon’s army, which I’ve commented upon before. Gideon was called by an angel to deliver Israel from the power of Midian. He raised an army of 30,000 men from several tribes to battle Midian after testing God. God then winnowed Gideon’s army from 30,000 men to 10,000 men, and from 10,000 men to 300 men. Gideon’s 300 men were those who lapped up water like dogs. (Judges 7:5). These men then routed the army of Midian by surrounding them, making loud war cries, breaking pots, and brandishing torches, but not swords.
God explained to Gideon why he need to winnow the army of Israel:
“The people with you are too many for me to give the Mid′ianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’Judges 7:2 RSVCE
Jonathan, the son of King Saul, once heard that a Philistine outpost had advanced nearby. He said to his armor-bearer:
“Come, let us go over to that outpost of the uncircumcised. Perhaps the Lord will help us, because it is no more difficult for the Lord to grant victory by means of a few than it is by means of many.”1 Sam 14:6 NABRE
So the two of them defeated those Philistines alone. Large numbers of soldiers mean little to the Lord.
Maybe you remember the story of David and Goliath. David, standing face-to-face with Goliath, with just a sling and some stones and without armor or sword, said to Goliath:
“and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”1 Sam 17:47 RSVCE
It took just one small stone from his sling to fell the giant and send the Philistines running.
Notice how Gideon, Jonathan, and David, while knowing that the battle was the Lord’s, still took action.
The Lord spoke to the prophet Hosea of His deliverance of the house of Judah, saying:
“But to the house of Judah I will show mercy and rescue them through the LORD their God, but I will not rescue them through bow and sword and in battle with horses and with horsemen.”Hosea 1:7 ALTER
And in Psalm 44 we read:
Not in my bow do I trust, nor does my sword bring me victory. You have brought us victory over our enemies, shamed those who hate us.Psalm 44:7-8 NABRE
To the world, of course, this is sheer folly. Battles and wars are won with large, well-equipped armies! St. Paul provides a deeper insight into God’s thinking on this “folly”:
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.1 Cor. 1:26-29 RSVCE
The folly of a ragtag army assuredly is meant to prepare us for the folly of loving our enemies and ultimately, for the folly of the cross. Our ragtag army of Pro-Lifers should take action knowing that the battle is the Lord’s and that the Lord can deliver by few weak men and women just as well as by many strong and well funded.