Friday, December 24, 2010

The Birth of Jesus Christ

This past week, one of the Gospel readings was the story of the visitation of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary had just assented to become the mother of God's son Jesus and to reassure her that with God all things are possible, the angel Gabriel told her that her cousin was also pregnant. Elizabeth was "advanced in years" and had been barren. Without hesitation Mary went to visit Elizabeth, in my mind she went to help her as Elizabeth would have been six months pregnant and in need of help. Mary remained with her for three months, presumably until baby John the Baptist was born.

The story of the visitation tells of Elizabeth's joy at seeing Mary and she calls her the "mother of my Lord" as Elizabeth must have been given the knowledge of Mary's pregnancy. What amazes me when I hear this story is the fact that John, in Elizabeth's womb, recognizes Jesus in Mary's womb and leaps for joy.

Some people say that the Bible is silent on the subject of abortion. Perhaps directly, but not silent on the sacredness of pregnancy. Throughout the Bible, pregnancy is seen as a blessing, the people of Israel are encouraged to have children and many of them. In fact, if a man had many children, he was seen to have been blessed by God, irrespective of his material well-being.

Don't miss what happens here: baby John is spoken of as a person already in existence and baby Jesus is a person too since John recognizes him. What clearer statement could be made about the personhood of the child in the womb?

And now we come to the Nativity: the most profound statement of our God about the unborn. Jesus could have come to earth in any other way, but God chose to have his Son come through the process of conception and pregnancy and birth, just like the rest of the human race. This speaks volumes about what God would say about abortion. If his Son Jesus spent 9 months within a woman's womb and was born the usual way, and developed as all other babies develop, then we should stand in awe of the process of coming into being. It has been sanctified by God the Father, who allows us to participate in the creation of his children.

Thank you Heavenly Father for choosing to reveal yourself to us in the humble state of a babe in the womb. May we fully realise that all the unborn are our brothers and sisters, because they are brothers and sisters of your son Jesus first.

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