Filed under: Biblical Reflections, How are we to honor Unborn Jesus, Papal Quotes, Pope Benedict XVI, The Incarnation
The 3 wise men honored Unborn Jesus from afar by seeking Him and searching for Him, passionately and diligently, and by rejoicing in anticipation (Mt 2:1-10).
“Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the “star” which they saw “in the East” and which they recognized as the star of the “King of the Jews”, that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2: 2).” Pope Benedict XVI, Friday, 19 August 2005
“What amazes us each time when we listen to these words of the Magi is that they prostrated themselves before a simple baby in his mother’s arms, not in the setting of a royal palace but, on the contrary, in the poverty of a stable in Bethlehem (cf. Mt 2: 11).” Pope Benedict XVI, Saturday, 6 January 2007
Like the Magi, let us recognize that Christ came into the world as an unborn baby and a child. The Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes points out “For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man”. We honor our unborn and child King when we teach respect for each unborn child and pregnant mother by our example. As they fell down and worshipped – we should approach these little ones and their mothers with awe and respect no matter where we find them. As they offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, we should offer our love, support, and financial assistance as needed.
“So much can be gained by reflecting on the way Mary learned from Jesus!
From her very first “fiat”, through the long, ordinary years of the hidden life, as she brought up Jesus, or when at Cana in Galilee she asked for the first sign, or when finally on Calvary, by the Cross, she looked on Jesus, she “learned” him moment by moment.
Firstly in faith and then in her womb, she received the Body of Jesus and then gave birth to him. Day after day, enraptured, she adored him. She served him with solicitous love, singing the Magnificat in her heart.”
Filed under: Adoption, Advent, Incarnation, Pope Benedict XVI, Prayer, Unborn Jesus
Painting by Fr. William McNichols
“In these days of Advent, the liturgy invites us to contemplate in a special way the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, who lived with a unique intensity the time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus. Today, I want to direct our gaze toward the figure of St. Joseph… The one who gives the most importance to the adoptive father of Jesus is the Evangelist Matthew, emphasizing that thanks to him, the Child was legally introduced into the lineage of David fulfilling the Scriptures, in which the Messiah was prophesied as the ’son of David’.” Pope Benedict, Angelus address, December 18, 2005
A MORNING OFFERING
O Heavenly Father, St. Joseph adopted Jesus when he was still an unborn baby. Jesus was adopted by a man so we could be adopted by You, Our God. Help me to love You today as a child loves his/her father. I want to offer my heart to You with childlike trust.
This Sunday at Mass we heard a deep teaching of Jesus about forgiveness; Mt 18: 21-35. But look at how it all starts: “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
This is a great question! Sure, some sophisticated know-it-alls may choose to dismiss Peter’s question and demean him, but to me this was a real and legitimate question to pose to the Lord. And of course, the answer was even better, much better!!
So today, Peter’s successor the Pope, and the Bishops as well, ask God many questions and listen attentively for His wonderful guiding responses. And the laity of course prays for our Pope and Bishops, to support them in their prayers and listening before God.
A few years ago I was quite surprised when I re-read the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, issued by Vatican Council II. There was a reference that appeared several times which was at once surprising but very profound and beautiful:
“Guiding the Church in the way of all truth (cf. Jn 16:13) and unifying her in communion and in the works of ministry, he bestows upon her varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her; and he adorns her with his fruits (cf. Eph 4:11-12; I Cor 12:4; Gal 5:22).” LG #4 Hierarchic gifts – given to the apostles and their successors for the good of the Church!
Which brings us back to Peter. It is critical to ask God the right questions, to persevere in prayer seeking the truth. Our Popes and Bishops do this. (No they haven’t been perfect – just human, but generally with wonderful results.) A great testimony to this reality of the Church’s life is the solid defense given by the Church on behalf of unborn children.
From the 1st century A.D., when the Didache states: “You shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born…”, to Vatican II (Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, #51), to The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, written by John Paul II), the Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to teach soundly on respect for human life, right from the moment of conception.
But this guidance came through prayer, asking God the right questions, like Peter did 2,000 years ago, and like Benedict XVI and his fellow Bishops do today. Last Advent, 2010, Pope Benedict introduced a profound new tradition on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent; he celebrated a Vigil for the Unborn, linking it to Advent when we contemplate Christ in the womb, about to born. Surely this too was the fruit of prayer, of seeking God’s inspiration and guidance. Thanks be to God!
“Inseparable from the Gospel, for St. Thérèse the Eucharist was the sacrament of Divine Love that stoops to the extreme to raise us to him. In her last Letter, on an image that represents Jesus the Child in the consecrated Host, the Saint wrote these simple words: ‘I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me! […] I love him! In fact, he is nothing but Love and Mercy!’ (LT 266).”
“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!”
Pregnant virgin. In Pinacoteca, Vatican Museum
During his Homily for the Vigil of Nascent Life on November 27, Pope Benedict speaks of the connection between the unborn and Christ’s time in the womb:
“The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, God who makes himself small, He becomes a child, it speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, who wanted to experience the life of man, from the very beginning, to save it completely, fully. And so the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and in harmony with each other within the one saving plan of God, the Lord of life of each and every one of us. The Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.”
Later in the Homily he states:
“With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in Mary’s womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb. With the ancient Christian writer Tertullian we can say: ” he who will be a man is already one” (Apologeticum IX, 8), there is no reason not to consider him a person from conception.”
He closes the Homily by entrusting the unborn to Our Lady who bore Jesus, our Savior in her womb:
To the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love, we entrust our commitment and prayer in favour of unborn life .
To read the entire homily click here