UNBORN WORD of the day

December 15, 2010, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Advent, Biblical Reflections, Unborn Jesus

Photo by Lennart Nilsson

“Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows,                   looking through the lattice.”  Song of Songs 2:8-9

In this final trimester of growth within His mother’s womb, Unborn Jesus is dramatically growing in size; a tripling in weight and a doubling in length. More sleeping and less leaping. This sanctuary of Mary’s womb is closing in on Him as He grows in size. He is content, but as the weeks and months go by He will become lovingly restless for the world awaiting Him.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, initially within His mother’s womb. Let’s consider for a moment the ‘face of God’; the face of Unborn Jesus. By 25 weeks gestation, the retinas of His eyes are developed, He has eyebrows and eyelashes and now His eyelids can open. He now has a mature face, with distinctive features, and recognizable expressions reflecting in part His experiences even here in the womb, even now before birth. Dark hair is growing on His head. Even here and now, like His ancestor David, He “was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome” (I Sam 16:12).

“Thou hast said, ‘Seek ye my face.’
My heart says to thee,
‘Thy face, Lord, do I seek.’
Hide not thy face from me.”  Psalm 27.8-9

The physiological bonding between Mother and Unborn Son is marvelously supplemented by behavioral bonding (for example, as Mary rubs her abdomen or repeatedly sings her favorite Psalms to God and her unborn child). But there is also a spiritual, redemptive bonding between Savior and Mother – which both would ponder in their hearts.

This pregnancy – like all pregnancies – gives glory to God and hope to humanity! But this pregnancy – unlike all others – will bring forth the only begotten Son of God!

Madonna and Child with two Votaries by Paolo Veneziano

December 10, 2010, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Advent, Pro-life, Unborn Jesus

“Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows,                   looking through the lattice.”  Song of Songs 2:8-9

We consider Unborn Jesus in the Virgin Mary’s womb during the second trimester of this Redemptive Pregnancy.

By the 14th week (of gestation) He has significant cerebellar control which is reflected in a variety of coordinated physical movements and facial expressions. Unborn Jesus clenches His fists, somersaults, rolls over and kicks. For he is like us in all things, but sin (cf. Heb 4:15). 4 1/3 to 4 2/3 inches in length and about 2 ¾ ounces in weight.

His wrinkled skin is still somewhat transparent and noticeably we see His heart vibrant and beating 120 – 160 beats per minute (around twice the adult heart rate). Thirty years hence Jesus will say: “Come to me…for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28-29). This miniscule heart, is even now pumping the Savior’s blood, which will wash away the sins of humanity. A tiny red tide of mercy.

By the 20th week of gestation, Unborn Jesus can hear conversations between Mary and Joseph (and others) – Joseph’s deeper voice is easier for Him to hear. He recognizes their  voices. When Mary visits with Joseph while he is working at his carpenter’s trade, Unborn Jesus exhibits a ‘startle reflex’ when He hears loud hammer blows and other noises. (After birth He will grow accustomed to these familiar sounds.) And when Mary sings Psalms, He is comforted. “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day” (Psalm 96:2). By the 22nd week of gestation, He is about 8 ½ inches in length and weighs about 1 ¼ pounds.

Straßburg, Frauenhaus-Museum, Zweifel-Joseph (Detail) Mary and Joseph before the Birth of Jesus.

December 5, 2010, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Advent, Biblical Reflections, Pro-life, Unborn Jesus

Painting from Gemaldegalerie Berlin

As we approach Christmas – keeping in mind the pregnant Virgin Mary and her growing unborn baby – this is a good time to ask, “What does our little Savior look like?”

The Zygote Christ Child is a mere one cell and you can’t even see Him. This cornerstone cell of the Christ Child’s Body is a male human living cell with 46 chromosomes. Jesus at this  one cell stage is literally bursting with Grace! This is “the grace of union”, when the Son of God assumed a human nature from His very conception, which St. Thomas Aquinas taught was the source of every other grace.  He is One Cell and one with us.

The Blastocyst Christ Child at about one week development now consists of more than 100 cells; a one hundredfold blessing for humanity. He is implanted into the lining of Mary’s womb and is clearly focused on His Incarnation Mission.

The Embryonic Christ Child is between 1/12 to 1/6 of an inch in length (around 4 weeks gestation). He is “the least among us” but has the most to give! His primitive Sacred Heart is beating for love, a tempo that this world has never heard before, with a meaning that will take a life time to comprehend. (Memo to Mary: Your little baby has taken charge of this redemptive pregnancy already, sending chemical-hormonal messages from His body to yours – thank you Mary for passing on essential nutrients to your Embryonic Christ Child, you are building up His tiny body and preparing Him for His Redemptive Mission.)

The Fetus Christ Child (around 8 weeks gestation) is 1 ¼ to 1 2/3 inches in length and weighs about 1/3 ounce. He is not heavy, He is our brother, in solidarity with all unborn children, embracing our humanity in His body and Soul. In proportion to the rest of His rapidly growing body, Christ’s head and heart are very big; He knows us and loves us. His Sacred Heart beats at about 140 beats per minute.

As His First Trimester ends, Unborn Jesus shows extraordinary signs of typical growth for an unborn baby. All vital organs are fully formed, His hair is growing, you can count the fingers on His hand and His finger nails are growing too! See each ear taking on its final shape and the iris forming in His eye. “Incline thy ear, O Lord, and hear; open thy eyes, O Lord, and see….(Isaiah 37:17) In the buoyant liquid environment in which He grows, Unborn Jesus is showing not just a ‘walking reflex’  but vigorously stretches His limbs and can even be seen leaping.

“Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands behind our wall,
gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.”   Song of Songs 2:8-9

Maestro Francesco, XIII century
Madonna Platytera fra tre santi , Venezia, Scuola di S.

December 2, 2010, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Advent, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus
The picture above is a mural on the Visitation Church in Ein Kerem on the outskirts of Jerusalem which commemorates Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth and the Magnificat

Certainly as we accompany the Church from the First Sunday of Advent to Christmas Eve, we are exposed to many traditional and beautiful readings from scripture and powerful themes for our edification.

We look back historically – and hear the prophets proclaim the Messianic Age.

We look forward prophetically – to the Great Mystery of the Final Coming of Christ.

We live the present expectantly – preparing for Christmas and our encounter with Christ!

In a General Audience in 2002, John Paul II spoke of the Church providing us with 3 guides for Advent: The Prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus.

In the Penitential Season of Lent – we discover our Savior and our need of Redemption.

In the Penitential Season of Advent – we seek a Baby and contemplate His Incarnation.

One way to travel your Advent weeks to Christmas is to accompany Mary (and Unborn Jesus) on her (and His) nine month journey. Their journey together is gestational and spiritual….but when you join them on their journey it becomes very personal.

Enter into the Mystery of the Incarnation. Mary is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceives the Son of God – then she leaves in haste on a 4 day journey to the hill country of Judah to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. When she arrives remarkable events unfold – her unborn Child right in the middle of it all (CCC #717). On one level, Mary is visiting Elizabeth, on another level, God is visiting His people. You can join in this visit.

Three months later, Elizabeth gives birth to her baby John, and shortly thereafter, Mary (and Unborn Jesus) return to Nazareth. Trusting Joseph encounters Mary (and Child) and becomes perplexed, then resolved upon a course of action. But God introduces into the marvelous mystery of the Incarnation a simple human institution called ‘adoption’. The angel of the Lord visits Joseph in a dream and the rest is salvation history. You can visit Nazareth during the second and third trimesters of this singular Redemptive Pregnancy.

Travel to Bethlehem with the Holy Family. Witness the rejection this young pregnant mother experiences as the door to the inn is closed in her face, and the babe in her womb vigorously stirs within her. Behold Joseph’s resolve now. Watch God the Father provide for the birth of His Son. The angels tell all! The shepherds teach all!

Finally, you can welcome God’s newborn newfound Love at journey’s end with worship  and a promise to be childlike yourself, and always respectful of the child.