You may have heard the uproar Fox News contributor Alan Colmes caused – rightly so – in his commentary before the Iowa caucuses about the way Rick Santorum and his family grieved the death of their newborn son, Gabriel in 1996.
“Once [voters] get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby who died right after childbirth home and played with it for a couple of hours so his other children would know that the child was real…”
Later in the day, Colmes tweeted that he had apologized to Santorum and his wife, and that they had graciously accepted.
Given that the Santorums have received and accepted an apology for what Alan Colmes called a “hurtful remark” I do not intend to spend the time and space beating up the commentator. However, I do want to address the attitude behind what he said.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus disciples ask him, “What sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age”? The Master lays out for them: wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, increased sin, false prophets, and “because of the evildoing, the love of may will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
This, I believe, is what we see in the cruel comments of Mr. Colmes about the death of a baby. A baby.
And it is the current state of many hearts today, most especially with respect to the unborn – and their mothers, but also to others who are weak and vulnerable. Cold love. Unmoved by the weakness, suffering, and need of another.
Note that Jesus says love grows cold. In other words, it’s a process, not a moment, that develops over time, in much the same way that a callous appears on the skin from repeated contact with something hard.
We must be vigilant not to let our love, our hearts, grow cold. The world, our flesh and the devil work diligently to that end. But the Holy Spirit, who appeared as tongues of fire, is the antidote to cold love. He warms and softens us so that we may be molded more and more into the image and likeness of God Himself, who is Love.
We must pray for the world – our neighbors and fellow parishioners, to have hearts that are disposed to His shaping, that may be weighed by the Lord and found pleasing because our ways are His ways. And we must certainly fast and do penance for the love which has grown cold in the hearts of so many, especially those so hardened by the cold that they see the death of a child from not a posture of sorrow and compassion but from a jaded, icy reality in their own lives.
May God have mercy on them.