The Life of St. John the Baptist is depicted in this Icon
You know Luke’s marvelous account of the Visitation, when Mary greets Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy within her womb. Let’s look at this from a different angle:
Previously the Angel Gabriel had told Elizabeth’s husband that her son John “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Lk1:15).
Mary is pregnant with Unborn Jesus when she arrives at the home of Elizabeth, greets her and then unborn John leaps for joy. The leap signifies that John has just been “filled with the Holy Spirit”.
Let’s look at how the Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on the scene: “John was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb’ by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people” (#717). Note carefully that John is filled with the Holy Spirit by Christ himself. It is Christ Unborn – perhaps but a week old within His mother’s womb – who acts, who initiates.
But the Catechism goes on to say that the visit is truly a visit “from God” – that is, Unborn Jesus – “to his people” – that is, primarily to unborn John. So unborn John represents the people of God – that is, the Church.
What happens when “God” visits “his people”? He pours His Spirit into them. One of the greatest documents from Vatican II is Lumen Gentium (“Christ is the light of humanity…” it begins). It refers to the Church as “the people of God” and tells us that Christ “sent the Holy Spirit to all to move them interiorly to love God…” (LG 40). Of course, this is what He did for unborn John the Baptist!
In a section specifically about the laity, Lumen Gentium specifically teaches: “The laity become powerful heralds of the faith in things to be hoped for (cf. Heb 11:1) if they join unhesitating profession of faith to the life of faith” (LG 35). This is what unborn John did! After Mary, he was the first ‘herald of the faith’ through his ‘unhesitating profession of faith’! (For if he experienced joy he must have been given the gift – even if only temporarily – of reason, and thus also the gift of faith in his Redeemer. So the Church Fathers believed.) By leaping, he is heralding the faith. The first layman was an unborn layman!
Lumen Gentium also states: “Every lay person, through those gifts given to him, is at once the witness and the living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal’ (Eph 4:7)” (LG 33). After Mary, Unborn John is the Church’s first “witness” and “living instrument of the mission of the Church”.
There is one tradition of St. John the Baptist icons that portray him pointing to the Christ Child (unborn). In his left hand he holds a chalice or charger and a scroll that reads, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world”. With his right hand he points to the Christ Child (unborn).
St. Leo the Great (A.D. 400?-461) has a wonderful quote that expresses in words what these icons express in art:
“…when at her greeting, John (in the womb of Elizabeth and not yet born) was stirred with prophetic exaltation-as if even in his mother’s womb he were already crying out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sins of the world’.” ) Sermon 35
Here are a few more icons in this tradition:
The reading for Mass today included these wonderful words:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
From the first cell stage of His conception and new human life, Christ loved His Father in heaven and all of us on earth. Pope Pius XII assures us that from the first moment of His conception, “the Heart of Jesus, ever to be adored, began to pulsate with love, divine and human” (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus).
We know that from the first moment of His conception the Unborn Christ (as Zygote, the one cell stage) joined His will to the will of His Father (Heb 10:5-7). ) Pius XII tells us “But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love.” The Mystical Body Of Christ, #75
We believe too that Christ loved His mother from the first moment of His conception (and that she joined her will to His; “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Lk 1:38
And a week later in her Magnificat, when Mary says “My soul magnifies the Lord…” first and foremost, she magnified the Love of Christ hidden within her. His love was bursting forth from the womb which contained Him. His love, in a sense could not be contained along with His tiny body, within the womb of His mother.
When Mary arrived at the home of Elizabeth (six months pregnant with John the Baptist), the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that it was “Christ Himself” who filled unborn baby John with His Spirit of Love (CCC #717). Christ demonstrates His love here for unborn baby John and all unborn babies!
Out of Love, Unborn Christ inspires His mother to stay for the entire pregnancy of Elizabeth, accompanying unborn John lovingly to birth.
When they return to Nazareth, Unborn Christ loves Joseph too. In Bethlehem He loves the shepherds, the wise men, even those who rejected Him and His pregnant mother at the door of the Inn. At His glorious birth in the manger, His powerful Love broke forth like a wave of Love across the earth, hidden for a time, but affecting Mary and Joseph and countless others who would discover in time the message of Redeeming Love!
Filed under: Pope Benedict XVI
We are changing the focus of our blog for today in an effort to provide a collection of well-written articles on the topic of child sexual abuse media coverage and attempts to smear and discredit the Pope. All sexual abuse of children was and is horrific! But a lot of the ‘reporting’ in today’s mainstream media has degenerated into agenda-driven journalism rather than fact-based journalism. One key agenda item is to destroy the Church and especially its moral teaching capabilities.
With this in mind, we are providing articles (links) that show just how bad and misleading this reporting has been:
1. This article is written by the canonical judge in the Wisconsin case that the New York Times first broke. I found this article interesting because of how credible it is – This priest wrote it to outline how “sloppy and inaccurate” the “reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets” was. I heard about it and had to search it out.
2. Here is another interesting article on the same Wisconsin abuse case by Father DeSousa – which details the facts.
3. On the blog (What Does Prayer Really Say) Father Z documents how the New York Times relied on a faulty translation of letters between the Vatican and the Diocese of Milwaukee in the article they wrote on the abuse case.
4. Here is another interesting article by John Allen. It is called Will Ratzinger’s Past Trump Benedict’s Present. As he gets into the article he actually shows how Pope Benedict has done more than almost any other churchman to deal forthrightly with the child abuse scandals.
5. This is an article by a Jewish Rabbi who thinks that Cardinal Ratzinger is getting unfair treatment.
6. The following article does a good job of putting a context to the child abuse scandals, Sandro Magister, a veteran Vatican reporter also points out that Cardinal Ratzinger was not the person in charge of investigating these scandals until 2001.
7. George Weigel also weighs in with a Newsweek article entitled What Went Wrong. The subtitle to his article is: Don’t blame celibacy. To fight the plague of sexual abuse, the church needs to become more Catholic, not less.
“May Mary, Patroness of the United States, help us to heal from our differences and build a nation where the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are a reality for all men and women, especially the unborn.” Archbishop Jose Gomez, Nov. 2008.
Archbishop Jose Gomez has been named as the new Archbishop of Los Angeles. There are many reasons to rejoice in his appointment – pro-lifer’s can rejoice that our new shepherd has a heart for the unborn and the life issues of our time.
Here are links to some of his respect life columns, sermons and writings.
Welcome to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez!
Archbishop Jose Gomez is known to be a wonderful defender of the faith and of the unborn. We are thrilled that he is coming to Los Angeles to be our new shepherd. In the next day or so we will detail and link to a number of the pro-life articles etc. that this wonderful man has written. But for today we have a quote of his that relates to the topic of this blog. It is from an Oct. 10, 2008 column he wrote entitled Truth, Freedom and Abortion.
“I repeat: Abortion is not only a Catholic issue or a ‘matter of faith’. It concerns the most fundamental questions in any human civilization: Who gets to live and who doesn’t — and who gets to decide this question? Can one’s rights or freedoms include the right and freedom to extinguish the life of one who is weaker?
The Catholic Church’s position on these questions is clear. Our Savior chose to come among us as each one of us came into this world, by spending nine months in a mother’s womb. Blessed Mother Teresa (0f Calcutta) used to talk about this a lot. She reminded us that our religion begins with the story of two pregnant women and their unborn children. And it was an unborn child, John the Baptist, who was the first to proclaim Christ’s presence — when he leapt in his mother’s womb at the Visitation. (Luke 1:39-45)”
Matthias Grunewald, Annunciation and Resurrection
“Christ is the Lord of time; he is its beginning and end; every year, every day, every moment are embraced by his Incarnation and Resurrection, and thus become part of “the fullness of time’ ”
. “For me it is the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the resurrection which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical. Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. I am always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul she says will rise but the body, glorified…”