Ever since the Supreme Court decisions on Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, and even earlier, many have preached that when a woman is pregnant, she is not carrying a human being in the full sense of the word. Indeed, many say that she isn’t with child until she decides that she is.
That is why it became so easy for the U.S. Supreme Court to ignore the baby and pretend to focus totally on the mother, her choices and her socalled right to do as she pleases. The more I have learned about the history of mankind, the better I have understood such twisted logic.
An age-old heresy thrives
In the fourth century, Saint Ambrose wrote that many claimed our Lord did not exist prior to His birth. The Arian heresy denied the eternal existence of Christ and thus provided Ambrose with the lifelong challenge to correct such heretical ideas.
Saint Ambrose reminded the errant on many occasions that because Christ is the Creator of all things, He could not have been created. But among his most persuasive arguments was the biblical story of the two expectant mothers, Mary and Elizabeth.
Recall that Saint John the Baptist, six months along in the comfort of his mother’s womb, leapt for joy as the Christ Child approached in the womb of His mother Mary. This wonderful testimony in the inspired word of God makes it clear that not only was John fully alive and aware, but Christ, even in His earliest moments, was pouring forth the amazing power that belongs to God alone.
In fact, I daresay that this encounter between Saint John and Christ is actually the recognition by John that he worshipped his Creator. As some biblical scholars have suggested, while Elizabeth was the first to hear the voice of Mary, John was the first to feel the Lord’s gracious and real presence. As Lawrence Crutchfield wrote:
Sweet is the harmony of prophecy with prophecy, of woman with woman, of babe with babe. The women speak words of grace, the babes move hiddenly and as their mothers approach one another, so do they engage in mysterious converse of love; and in a twofold miracle, though in diverse degrees of honor, the mothers prophecy in the spirit of their little ones.
Mary received word that she would be the mother of God and immediately left to be with Elizabeth. Since Elizabeth was older, one can imagine that Mary felt compelled to be with her cousin in order to help her. Several Bible history scholars have written that after the annunciation, Mary left at once and the trip to Elizabeth’s home took approximately eight days. This means that when Elizabeth first saw Mary and John first recognized his cousin, Christ was barely eight days old.
At that tender age, there can be no assurance that Jesus had yet implanted in His mother’s womb; yet John recognized and adored His Savior.
When we further read the biblical account of this encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, plus Christ and John, there is a beautiful line spoken by Elizabeth. She says, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Again, Elizabeth knew precisely Who was residing in Mary’s being. Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, begotten by the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary after He resided within His mother … in the same way that each of us came into this world.
A mother changed the world
Just as each person is an idea in the mind of God and comes into being at conception, so too God chose to send His Son into this world traveling the same path. As Father John Hardon wrote:[Jesus Christ is] the Second Person of the Trinity Whom the Father sent to the world to become man of the Virgin Mary in order to save the world from sin. Having lost God’s friendship, mankind of itself could not regain his life of grace, any more than a man who is dead can bring himself to life again.
Among the most contemplative words written on the Incarnation is this excerpt from the foreword that Cardinal John O’Connor wrote in John Saward’s amazing book Redeemer in the Womb:
In the divine plan of salvation, Jesus was conceived and born of a woman. We have no way of truly knowing if it could have been otherwise, but since this is the way it was, it seems reasonable to ask if the Redeemer would have come at all had Mary refused the invitation to become His Mother. What happened in Mary, of course, happened by the power of the Holy Spirit Who “came” upon her. What happens in each Mass happens through the power of the Holy Spirit, the “coming” of the Holy Spirit upon the elements of bread and wine. Is Mary somehow present? Does the Holy Spirit continue to work through her? Could the crucifixion have taken place without the Incarnation, the Incarnation without the conception, any of these salvific acts except through Mary?
The struggle to restore legal personhood to the most vulnerable in our midst is a quest that is inspired by the Incarnation of Christ. Just as the wonderful report of Elizabeth’s first encounter with her expectant cousin Mary teaches us the centrality of the womb in our work for legal personhood, so too should our efforts be focused on the affirmation of motherhood and the wonder of that procreative power God has given to husbands and wives. The gift of a human being’s life is never accidental but uniquely providential.
It is very clear that prayerful reflection on this profound miracle—Jesus, Who is truly God and truly man—should inspire each of us to rejoice and thank God for the Incarnation of Christ, Who came that each of us might live—and live life to the fullest! Celebrate life. Celebrate Christ. Celebrate the gift of His redemptive love.