UNBORN WORD of the day

August 14, 2011, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

“Theotokos (God-Bearer)”  by  by Karl Kohlhase

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple…. Rev 11:19

Above is the last verse of Revelation chapter 11. The next verse, the first verse of chapter 12, begins to narrate the portent of the “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child….”

But there is a continuity here from Rev 11:19 to Rev 12. Mary is the “new ark” of the New Covenant”. What made the old ark in the Old Testament especially valuable was its contents. So too with Mary who was with child; containing within her the Unborn Savior of the world.

Numerous biblical scholars, theologians and Bishops have found a remarkable parallel between Old Testament accounts of the ark of the covenant (Sam 6:1-13, and elsewhere) and the Incarnation /Visitation accounts in Luke. (See Unborn Jesus Our Hope, Chp. 2, footnote 13.) So, Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant, carrying Unborn Jesus within her. She is also the Woman clothed with the sun.

There is within Christendom the ancient tradition that Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul, and in a prophetic sense, Revelations 12 confirms that tradition, bearing witness to the reality of it. Read Rev 11:19 again. Here is one possible interpretation of Rev 11:19: Then God’s temple in heaven was opened and Mary, the pregnant Mother of Jesus our Savior stood within the temple. Perhaps this is heaven’s version of a Nativity scene; a revelation of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ (within the new Ark). Note: Mary is Not Divine, she is Not worshiped, it is Not her temple! She is privileged however, as the faithful and ever-loving Mother of Jesus Christ, to be with Him always in a special manner; and in Rev 11:19 He is her unborn baby.

Humanity’s “solitary boast”, as William Wordsworth would say of her (‘The Virgin’, Ecclesiastical Sonnet XXV).

June 21, 2011, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Unborn Jesus

There is a beautiful teaching in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians about God’s peace:

“And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7

We find this peace first and foremost in the Person of Jesus Christ – even when He was an infant, a little baby. Just after the birth of John the Baptist, when Mary was just about 3 months pregnant, Zechariah (the father of newborn baby John) proclaims the future prophetic role of his baby son. Zechariah also speaks of a time “when the day shall dawn upon us from on high….to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:78-79).

That day had surely begun to dawn in Bethlehem. And so the angel of the Lord and the heavenly host which appeared to the shepherds in the nearby fields, ended their proclamation with these words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).

The shepherds go to the stable and worship the newborn Christ. Later the wise men come and worship as well. There is, in fact, a correlation between worshipping God and encountering the Peace of God.

After the shepherds left, Luke tells us: “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). The words and experiences were so deep and profound, that only her heart could touch them. Mary’s heart was at once, the vessel from which her worship poured forth and a receptacle for the breath of God’s Peace.

Mary was the first to touch that Peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding, or rather – the Peace of the Unborn Christ (and later newborn Christ) touched her, enveloped her pondering heart…guiding her “feet into the way of peace”…

May 31, 2011, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mary, Pope Benedict XVI

Visitation Sand Sculpture: Artist: Daniel Glover

“Let us imagine the Virgin’s state of mind after the Annunciation, when the Angel left her. Mary found herself with a great mystery enclosed within her womb; she knew something extraordinarily unique had happened; she was aware that the last chapter of salvation history in the world had begun.

But everything around her remained as before and the village of Nazareth was completely unaware of what had happened to her.

Before worrying about herself, Mary instead thought about elderly Elizabeth, who she knew was well on in her pregnancy and, moved by the mystery of love that she had just welcomed within herself, she set out “in haste” to go to offer Elizabeth her help. This is the simple and sublime greatness of Mary!”

The Visitation and the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Benedict XVI On Saturday evening, 31 May [2008], the Feast or the Visitation of the Virgin Mary.

May 16, 2011, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Our Lady of Light and Life

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Jn 1:4-5

“And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…”  Lk 2:8-9

“…and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was.”  Mt 2:9

“And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white…and they saw his glory…”  Lk 9:29,32

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world…’”  Jn 8:12

“Now as he (Paul) journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you Lord?’”  Acts 9:3-5

“For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  II Cor 4:6

In our darkest moments, let us look for the glimmer of Christ’s light in our own hearts and in the lives of Christians around us, in the pregnant woman, in the manger, in the night sky, on the mountain top, even down the darkened meandering road….

April 29, 2011, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Religion

Isenheim Altarpiece (Mathis Grünewald, ca. 1515, oil on panel)

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared in the sky over the nearby fields and addressed the shepherds: “…behold, I bring you good news of a great joy…”

When the three wise men finally saw the star of Bethlehem settle over the place where Christ and His parents were staying, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”.

Three decades later, after the Last Supper and before they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus spoke in veiled terms about His quickly approaching death and subsequent resurrection. He gave his beloved disciples an image to help them understand: “When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world” (Jn 16.21).

So the joy of the Resurrection is described by Jesus as being like the joy of bringing a newborn baby into the world! Perhaps, His mother had described to Him the joy she experienced when He was born. Perhaps Mary had told Him too, about the joyful message of the angel at Bethlehem and the joy of the three wise men.

The birth of a baby is an extraordinary event, one that changes many parents forever in a spiritual way as a bond of union forms naturally (and supernaturally) between parent and child. We might say that spiritual joy is a sign accompanying each child into this world, for all to experience with awe.

So too, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

April 15, 2011, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections

Let’s connect some Lenten dots by way of scriptural reflection and trace a sinister sequence of attempts to kill the Son of God, the Word of God – a connecting of black dots, each meant to end the sentence of the Word’s life on earth! Some spontaneous, others devilishly devised.

  • First, and probably the most vicious of all – the crucifixion excepted – is Herod’s concerted effort to destroy the tiny newborn baby Jesus! We are all familiar with the story. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph: “…flee to Egypt …for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him” (Mt 2:13). Herod’s plans reach a rancid fruition just after Joseph flees by night with Mary and the newborn Jesus. Herod is “in a furious rage” and ordered the killing of “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Mt 2:16). These were the “Holy Innocents” killed in the very place of Jesus, because Herod suspected that each one of them might be the newborn King of the Jews. Each of these babies is an innocent martyr – a baby alter ChristiAnd there was mourning, the first attempt upon His life.

We know now that Herod helped inspire the paranoid “Planned Parenthood” mentality so common today, and that if he had had the opportunity to have Unborn Jesus aborted he would have done so instantly! Unborn Jesus, like any “unwanted” unborn baby, represents a threat to the status quo.

  • We now fast forward about thirty years to the outset of our Lord’s public ministry. After Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit led Him out into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days. At the end of this period, the devil came to Him and tempted Jesus three times. The third deceitful temptation was a direct attempt upon the life of Jesus by the devil. They were on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and the devil challenged Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here…” (Lk 4:9-12). Christ does not succumb and the devil leaves Him, but Luke observes “he departed from Him until an opportune time”. The second attempt upon His life.
  • A little later Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth and went to the synagogue on the sabbath. He read a messianic prophesy from Isaiah and then explained that the text was being fulfilled in their midst. As he continued to speak the crowd became disenchanted: “…all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. But passing threw the midst of them He went away” (Lk 4:28-30). The third attempt upon His life.
  • One day, during the third year of His public ministry, Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem teaching, when things grew controversial. Surprisingly, He got into a debate with “the Jews who had believed in Him” (Jn 8:31). Finally, Jesus says to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” What did the Jews “who had believed in Him” do (along with others who didn’t believe in Him)? “So they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:57-59).The fourth attempt upon His life.
  • Finally, it was wintertime, the feast of the Dedication and Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem at a spot called the portico of Solomon (Jn 10:22-23). He is challenged by the people and He gives a short answer, ending with: “I and the Father are one”. We read: “The Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (Jn 10:31, also 11:7-8), He speaks again, then they try to arrest Him but He “escaped from their hands” (10:39). The fifth attempt upon His life.
  • We are all familiar with the sixth and final attempt upon our Lord’s life; His bloody Passion and crucifixion atop Golgotha! Jesus was targeted from infancy through adulthood. From the devil to His own countrymen, from political leaders to religious leaders, His innocence and authoritative teaching was difficult for sinners to bear. So too today, the innocence of the unborn baby and the “word” each would speak, is attacked by a self-absorbed hypocritical world that falsely champions human rights while daily plotting the deaths of the weakest among us.

Jesus: Suffering Servant in the Womb
April 12, 2011, 9:30 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Pro-life, Quotes from Great Christians, Saints

I recognize that not everyone will like this picture and I myself used it with some hesitancy. But it highlights a theme that quite a few saints and spiritual authors have written about which actually seems very relevant in our time (because of abortion), namely that Christ’s time in the womb was a time of suffering for our sins. Here are four quotes for our Lenten meditation:

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb… John Donne, The Annunciation

“The third characteristic then of the obedience of Christ is that it was tried by suffering and humiliations. To accomplish the Will of His heavenly Father, the Infant Christ, with the full use of every faculty, consented to be enclosed for nine months in the dark prison of His Mother’s womb. Other infants feel not this privation as they have not the use of reason, but Christ had the use of reason and must have dreaded the confinement in the narrow womb, even of her whom He had chosen to be His Mother.

Through obedience to His Father, and from the love He bore to man, He overcame this dread, and the Church says: ‘When Thou didst take upon Thee to deliver Man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.’ Again, our dear Lord needed no small amount of patience and humility, to assume the manners and the weaknesses of a child, when He was not only wiser than Solomon, but was the Man ‘in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ ” St. Robert Bellarmine, The Seven Words on the Cross

“Consider the painful life that Jesus Christ led in the womb of his Mother, and the long‑confined and dark imprisonment that he suffered there for nine months. Other infants are indeed in the same state; but they do not feel the miseries of it, because they do not know them. But Jesus knew them well, because from the first moment of his life he had the perfect use of reason….The womb of Mary was therefore, to our Redeemer a voluntary prison, because it was a prison of love. But it was also not an unjust prison: he was indeed innocent himself, but he had offered himself to pay our debts and to satisfy for our crimes. It was therefore only reasonable for the divine justice to keep him thus imprisoned, and so begin to exact from him the due satisfaction.

Behold the state to which the Son of God reduces himself for the love of men, he deprives himself of his liberty and puts himself in chains, to deliver us from the chains of hell.” St. Alphonsus de Liguori,The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ

“He was filled with compassion for all the miseries of creation, and this never left Him henceforward; and most of all did He feel for sin, the greatest and the truest of our miseries, and He distinctly and separately pitied the sins of each one of us in particular.

He surrendered Himself as a prisoner in His Mother s womb, for crime, for debt, and as a prisoner of war, as if He were a delinquent threefold by all those three liabilities. He only left His prison to suffer and to expiate, and it seems as though He loved it so, that He repeats His state of imprisonment in the Blessed Sacrament.” Father Faber, The Blessed Sacrament

When I think of Christ suffering in the womb for our sins it gives me great hope. Hope that He has obtained for us a special grace during His time of suffering in the womb – a grace that will enable us to overcome abortion in our time.

April 8, 2011, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation

The Annunciation from the High Altar of St. Peter’s in Hamburg, the Grabower Altar, 1383 Master Bertram of Minden

The message of Psalm 85 is Messianic.

“Near indeed is salvation for the loyal…
Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth;
justice will look down from heaven.”

A note in the New Jerusalem Bible concerning these latter verses of the Psalm explains: ‘Personified attributes of God; these will inaugurate the kingdom of God on earth and in human hearts.’

Indeed, we can contemplate this verse in terms of the glorious Incarnation of Jesus Christ; in which the exquisite nobility of Heaven truly kisses our humble earth.

‘Truth will spring from the earth’, reminds us that Adam was created from the slime of the earth, but now in Mary – his descendant and a mere creature, yet immaculately conceived – ‘truth’ springs to life awaiting the salvation and justice of God. The love of God and the ‘truth’ of His creation (in the person of Mary) “will meet”.* And ‘justice’ will not only ‘look down from heaven’, but will send Gabriel down from heaven….and then the ‘Holy Spirit will come’ down from heaven and overshadow Mary. ‘Justice’, according to the Divine Plan of Salvation will come down from heaven.

In the very conception of Jesus Christ, at the very first cell of His earthly life as a human being, True God and true man; Love and Truth meet, Justice and Peace kiss.

* Yes, Christ is “The way, the truth and the life”. Mary as the ‘truth’ of creation, is but a humble reflection of the glorious Truth that is Jesus Christ, and she embraces His truth within her body (as Mother) and within her heart (as 1st believer), and even testifies to His awesome truth (as 1st disciple); “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Lk 1:46-47). Mary as ‘truth’ in creation magnifies the Eternal and glorious Truth of our Creator!

February 24, 2011, 12:29 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections

Visitation, Initial D in the Gradual: originally from Wonnental Abbey, a Cistercian abbey that was founded in1248 and dissolved in 1807.

Our Blessed Mother is recorded speaking only 7 times in the Bible. These are often referred to as the 7 words of Mary.  1st Word: (How shall this be done?) 2nd Word: (Behold the Handmaid of the Lord) 3rd Word: (Her Salutation to Elizabeth) 4th Word: (The Magnificat) 5th Word: (Son, why hast Thou done so to us?) 6th Word: (They have no wine.) 7th Word: (Do whatever He tells you.)

A reflection by Mother St. Paul on  the 4th Word of Mary:  The Magnificat

“As soon as Elizabeth has finished “crying out with a loud voice ” her praise of Mary and of Jesus, and of the benefits God has wrought for herself and her son, Mary speaks, and in the longest of her recorded “words “ gives vent to the thoughts pent up in her breast. She at once closes the door against any praise given to herself: “My soul doth magnify the Lord”  He it is Whom we must praise and make much of; “and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”;  Mary understands what it is that is making her so full of joy. It is the presence of Jesus her Savior. She has Him within her…”

“The name that St Bernardine gives to Mary s fourth word is  “Flamma amoris jubilantis” (A Flame of Joyful Love); Her love for God was so strong that it made her burst out into this joyful song of praise. She could no longer keep to herself all that God had done to her ; she must tell others ; she was so full of joy that she must sing God’s praises. And all her love and joy found expression in the Magnificat a song of thanksgiving for the Incarnation a song which showed clearly that Mary’s joy was caused by the glory that was given to God by the Incarnation.

All through those blessed three months during which Mary abode with Zachary and Elizabeth, she was singing Magnificat. All through her life she sang Magnificat, even though she was the Mother of Sorrows, for the thought of God’s  glory ever lifted her out of herself and made her praise Him for all He did. It was because Mary had said her Fiat that she could say her Magnificat….”

Mother St. Paul, Mater Christi, pp 35-38

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 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.

God’s Rest
November 12, 2010, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Saints, Unborn Jesus

Mary is the ‘Holy House’ who bore God in her womb and is forever to be honoured by Elizabeth Wang

The unique St. John Eudes wrote many diverse prayers during his lifetime demonstrating his desire to offer every action of each day to God in a special and meaningful way. This is reflected in prayers such as this:

“O Jesus, I offer Thee the rest I am about to take, in honor of the eternal rest Thou dost enjoy in the bosom of Thy Father, and in honor of the sleep and temporal rest Thou didst take in the bosom of Thy Mother, as well as during Thy whole life on earth.”

His reference to the “bosom of Thy Mother”, is an endearing term for the womb of Mary as we see in the following instruction he gave elsewhere to retreatants:

“Your retreat ought to be made with these chief ends in view: 1. To continue and honor the various retreats of Jesus, for example, His retreat from all eternity in the bosom of His Father; His retreat for nine months in the bosom of His Mother…”

During his times of rest, sleep and even retreat John Eudes was reminded of Unborn Jesus within Mary’s womb. As he instructs us above, we can honor these acts of Jesus to the extent that we join ourselves to Him with these mysteries in mind.

Quotes taken from: St. John Eudes, C.J.M., The Life and the Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls

Visitation by Bradi Barth

Unborn Word of the Day has received permission to post  Visitation by Bradi Barth* copyright “BRADI BARTH” and “@HERBRONNEN vzw {www.bradi-barth.org)  Click on painting for full view.

“…God loved the world so much that he gave his son – it was a giving – it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?

As soon as he came in her life – immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child – the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child…was the first messenger of peace. He recognized the Prince of Peace, he recognized that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, December 1979


*We would encourage our readers to visit the Bradi Barth’s website: Bradi-Barth.org Bradi Barth (1922-2007) was an amazing Catholic artist. She was born in Switzerland but lived most of her life in Belgium. Her art is rich in tradition, amazingly unique and awe-inspiring.

In October 2000 Bradi Barth started her foundation “HERBRONNEN vzw”, fixing clearly its mission and goals:

  • Evangelization in the largest sense – Support for the missions – In Union with the Pope of Rome –  In Union with Christ – Under the protection of the Holy Virgin Mary

A Tribute to St. Luke for his infancy narratives
October 18, 2010, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Pro-life, Saints


Michele Tosini (1503-77) St. Luke

October 18 is the feast day of St. Luke.

In chapters One and Two of the Gospel of St. Luke we have 127 verses of narrative concerning the infancy and childhood of Jesus Christ and mysteries surrounding His infancy (Lk 1:5 – 2:52). These verses are unique to Luke and outline the earliest vignettes known about the childhood of Jesus Christ. The verses restricted to the infancy period are slightly less: 114 verses (Lk 1:5 – Lk 2:39).

The extraordinary account of the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel, for example, is presented only in Luke and no where else. Likewise, the remarkable Visitation event (and Magnificat “song”) and Bethlehem birth saga are Lukan treasures only. Which might lead us to wonder how would Christianity be different if there was no Luke? Would we celebrate Christmas? (Matthew also provides 47 verses of invaluable introductory information as well concerning Mary, Joseph and Jesus, before and after the birth. Mt 1:18 – 2:23)

We are indebted to Luke in a thousand ways, but especially for the first two chapters of his Gospel which are in a way a “prologue”, comparable to the famous “Prologue” to the Gospel of John (Jn 1:1-18): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…” But while the Prologue of John is about Mysteries and realities concerning the Word Incarnate, this “prologue” of Luke’s is focused on biological and historical events which reveal the Child Incarnate. While John is mystical, Luke is highly personal yet supernatural. All of this is to say that, the Incarnation Mystery of faith is so wondrous, that we need both Luke and John to unfold for us its beauty and reality. We can listen to John’s Prologue and see it with the eyes of the heart, but Luke’s we visualize all in fabulous images.

But it is only Luke who reveals to us the babyhood of Jesus and the attendant mysteries thereto. Luke is one of the Church’s great “Pro – Life” saints! There is no way around it. He alone tells of the conception of Jesus Christ, paints for us the tender mother who opens up her heart and soul to God’s plan and Spirit, then recounts the mysterious encounter between pregnant mothers and unborn children and finally recounts in all its poverty and glory the birth of humankind’s Savior in a manger.

St. Luke we thank you for the little details you carefully recorded about our Savior’s first nine months in the womb and then in the manger. You, St. Luke, have brought more tears of joy to human eyes than any other author in human history. You have revealed to us the mother of the baby Jesus and have transported us in our thoughts to kneel beside the beasts and shepherds, beneath the angels’ meditative gaze. It was first your descriptive words which gave rise to those Christmas hymns we sing now that cause our hearts to bow down in adoration again.

St. Luke, when we see you in heaven, we will get in that very long reception line of pro-life Christians who want to shake your hand, the hand which wrote down the sacred events of our Savior’s babyhood, events which gave us hope for all our earthly days.


El Greco (1541-1614) St. Luke (detail)

“There was silence in Heaven, as it were for half an hour”
October 12, 2010, 12:14 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, The Eucharist

The Disputation over the Blessed Sacrament (or more appropriately, The Triumph of Religion), painted by Raphael between 1508 and 1511,

“There was silence in Heaven, as it were for half an hour” (Apoc. viii. I)

“Thus the Holy Spirit moves St. John to write in the Apocalypse. He speaks of time in that state where time is no more. He speaks of silence where :”they cease not day and night” to sing the praises of the Lamb, because He wants to bring within reach of our intelligence a fact-and that fact is, that there was wonder in Heaven, so great that, so to speak, the ordinary course of things was stopped.

The Beloved Disciple does not tell us what it was that caused this silence in Heaven, but it may well have been when “the Angels and Archangels and all the company of Heaven, saw a wonder even greater than they saw when the silent Word leaped down from Heaven (Wisdom xviii. 15) to dwell in the womb of the sinless Virgin.

Could any wonder be greater than this? Yes. All the company of Heaven is looking intently once more, and they see their Creator, their God, the Word made Flesh entering into one of his sinful creatures to be his Food-to feed his spiritual life. And “there is silence in Heaven” as they look upon a sight so stupendous.”

Simple Meditations by Mother St. Paul pages 93-94.

His Incarnation Changed Everything
September 20, 2010, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Christmas, Incarnation

Birth of Christ: St. Denis Basilica, Paris

“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49

At the Heart of the Hail Mary Prayer
August 9, 2010, 10:54 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Mother of the Lord, Unborn Jesus

Annunciation by Michael Wening

Christians of every persuasion unite around the repetition of the Our Father. But in a sense the Lord’s Prayer is a model of how to pray – not the only prayer we are to say.

Making the sign of the cross is a physical expression of prayer which reflects our interior disposition (at least to an extent). Kneeling is also a physical expression of prayer but less revealing of one’s “beliefs” than making the sign of the cross.

All of our spiritual acts and words leave an impression upon our souls. The memory is a faculty of the soul, an “inner sense” as Aquinas described it. Surely the memory takes note of all our spiritual acts and prayers, especially those that tend to be repetitive.

So let’s consider briefly just a few words from one prayer; the Hail Mary, which is a prayer based on scripture and the tradition of the Church. (The first half of the Hail Mary comes straight from scripture; Lk 1:28, 42, 31. The second half is a simple petition expressing the age old mind of the Church.) Let’s consider one clause from this ancient prayer of the Church: “…blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”. These words were spoken by Elizabeth to Mary when Unborn Jesus was about one week old – He was in Mary’s womb when the words were spoken by Elizabeth who was probably just a few feet away from Him.

“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus”. These words have been prayed by Catholics zillions of times over two thousand years, but more to the point, each individual Catholic has heard these words over and over again and prayed these words over and over again. The message of these words is like a radiant beam of glory aimed at the heart of the Christian. The point here is that these words are packed with message and meaning.

Some would take issue with recitation of this prayer by quoting Jesus Himself: “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do…” (Mt 6:7). The point here is that this phrase – this glorious phrase “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus” – is NOT an empty phrase, it is scripture, it is a phrase “pressed down, and shaken together, and running over” – bursting and overflowing with meaning, direction and hope.

So, the Church is guilty of being fixated upon, even obsessed with, the wonder, the beauty and the glory of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. And we haven’t even mentioned Christmas yet!

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus” has been a luminous track for the faithful, lo’ these many centuries, for the illiterate and literate alike, for the weak and the holy alike. These words have upheld a Truth about Jesus Christ which has led the Church into its profound and expansive Pro – Life position concerning all other unborn children in the wombs of their mothers.

Dare we say it? “Blessed is the fruit of every mother’s womb!”