UNBORN WORD of the day


The Life of Jesus in the Womb: A Meditation and a Prayer
April 27, 2012, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Pro-life, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

There is a very worthwhile apostolate called One More Soul. On their website they describe themselves as “a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the truth about the blessings of children and the harms of contraception.”

They have many outstanding pamphlets and  DVD’s on different subjects – chastity, infertility/fertility, contraception etc. Recently they came out with a pamphlet about the Unborn Christ Child.

The 12 page booklet entitled The Life of Jesus in the Womb – A Meditation and a Prayer by Kathleen Curren Sweeney is a loving and beautiful tribute to the pre-born Christ Child.  In this booklet, the author describes the ordinary growth that each child in the womb experiences but that Our Lord himself sanctified during those wonderful nine months. We see Christ being prepared for the work of Salvation. “The whole destiny of the world is held in your tiny form.” (p.4)

Throughout the booklet, Kathleen Sweeney has a prayerful love and understanding of the Pre-born Christ’s solidarity with all pre-born babies especially those who are most vulnerable today. This is a perfect pamphlet for Respect Life groups to order for their parishes. To order this booklet click here.

Kathleen Sweeney has worked for National Right to Life for many years.  In 2001, she began the master’s degree in theology at the John Paul II Institute and completed it in 2004.  Since then, she has been writing articles on the theology of marriage and family, bioethics and pro-life topics.  She is  now working only as a free-lance writer. An article she wrote on the Holy Family will be published by the Homiletic and Pastoral review this fall.


Mary’s 2nd Annunciation: “Woman Behold Your Son”
April 6, 2012, 7:33 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, John Paul II, Mary, The Incarnation

Painting of Virgin Mary, Croatia, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Rector’s Palace

The angel Gabriel’s words in Nazareth: “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1,28) also cast light on the scene at Calvary. The Annunciation comes at the beginning, the Cross signals the fulfillment.

At the Annunciation, Mary gives human nature to the Son of God within her womb; at the foot of the Cross, she welcomes the whole of humanity within her heart in the person of John. She was Mother of God from the first moments of the Incarnation, and she became the Mother of humanity during the final moments of the life of her Son Jesus on earth.

She, who was without sin, on Calvary “experienced” within her own being the suffering of sin that her Son had taken upon himself to save humankind. At the foot of the Cross on which was dying the One whom she had conceived at the moment of her “yes” at the Annunciation, Mary received, as it were, a “second annunciation”: “Woman, behold, your son!” (Jn 19,26).

Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 18th World Youth Day (April 13, 2003)



TEN BLESSINGS OF MARY AT THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD
March 25, 2012, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Incarnation, Mary, Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

The Annunciation Budapest Master (Spanish, Castilian, ca. 1500) New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We read about the Annunciation of the Lord to Mary in Lk 1:26-38. This event, mystically linked with Mary’s conception of Jesus Christ immediately afterward, is the ultimate intervention of God in the life of an individual. With the Incarnation of God, the world and humanity were instantaneously and radically changed forever. Let us consider for a moment how Mary was directly impacted by this singular event. Following are ten blessings Mary received during this event:

Blessing of Angelic Visitation (Lk 1:26-27): The angel Gabriel “was sent from God” and appeared to Mary. Gabriel is a unique angel, an Archangel “who stand in the presence of God” (Lk 1:19). His appearance to a human being was, in and of itself, a profound and deep act of Divine blessing.

Blessing of Divine Election (Lk 1:26-28, 30): Mary had been chosen by God for an unprecedented role, or office, in Salvation History; Mother of the Son of God, Mother of the Savior of the World, the First Christian.

Blessing of Announcement (Lk 1:30-33): The Incarnation Mystery is announced first to Mary. She represents humankind and is entrusted with this Divine Message for safekeeping. But more, what is announced almost simultaneously occurs through a Divine act within her physical body. The Announcement “takes flesh” within her.

Blessing of Illumination (Lk 1:31-33, 35): Gabriel explains the meaning of the message, the truth of the Incarnation. “…his name Jesus…the Son of the Most High…the throne of his father David…reign over the house of Jacob…his kingdom…the Son of God” and conceived by “the Holy Spirit”. These are theological concepts of uncharted prophetic and intellectual import; like Divine sunbeams penetrating her heart and intellect.

Blessing of Conception (Lk 1:31, 35): We might almost say that there are two consecutive “annunciations” to Mary; 1. Gabriel appears to her, 2. The Holy Spirit overshadows her. In the first she conceives the Word in her heart, in the second she conceives the Word in her womb (as the Fathers of the Church observed). She is transformed for eternity, from “handmaid of the Lord” to “Mother of God”, by one sublime act of Divine Intervention.

Blessing of the Divine Presence (Lk 1:31, 35): At the moment of the Incarnation, God is present with Mary with an intensity and reality beyond human comprehension or explanation. As Mother, she enjoys the real physical Presence of God, as First Christian, this Presence imbues and directs her daily life.

Blessing of Prophetic Fulfillment (Mt 1:20-22): A lengthy list of Messianic prophecies, beginning with Gen 3:15 and running down through the centuries, were fulfilled within the womb and being of Mary in that very moment of “the fullness of time” (Eph 1:9-10), on that very first day of the “new creation” (II Cor 5:17). When Gabriel announced the redemptive name of “Jesus” to Mary, our Redemption was already upon us.

Blessing of Encouragement (Lk 1:30, 37): Gabriel gave Mary two personal messages of encouragement and strengthening; 1. “Do not be afraid…you have found favor with God.” and 2. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” This was an immediate blessing to Mary, but also a touchstone message for the rest of her life, especially during those times of trial that would come upon her.

Blessing of Divine Guidance (Lk 1:36): Gabriel reveals to Mary the prophetic pregnancy of her kinswoman Elizabeth, which serves as a spiritual signpost for her new journey with God. Also, this news of God’s Divine intervention and activity in the world around her are a promise of a continuing guidance throughout her life.

Blessing of Remembrance (Lk 1:26-38): This foundational event, the Incarnation of Christ by the Virgin Mary, which defines Christianity, and the accompanying teaching message from Gabriel, which informs Christianity, were to be shared by Mary with the early Apostolic Church at the appropriate time. This was a sacred remembrance given only to Mary for the holy edification of the Christian Church for all time. This blessing was understood by Mary; “…henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).



The Incarnation – Gift to Humanity
November 14, 2011, 12:06 am
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Evangelium Vitae, Incarnation, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Meister des Marienlebens Annunciation

Sometimes words such as ‘gift’ and ‘giving’ – like the word ‘love’ – seem over-used, employed too often and too superficially, thus inclined to have their true meaning and intent eroded. But to call the Incarnation a ‘gift from God’ is not only appropriate, it is almost understatement. Consider this observation by John Paul II:

“The conception and birth of Jesus Christ are in fact the greatest work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the history of creation and salvation: the supreme grace – “the grace of union,” source of every other grace, as St. Thomas explains.” (# 50 The Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World)

Here is a very rough paraphrase: The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is the supreme gift – given by God to humanity.

John Paul goes on to say of the Incarnation that it is the “source of every other grace” – and every other Divine gift. Later in the same document, John Paul elaborates on this concept further:

“Creation is thus completed by the Incarnation and since that moment is permeated by the powers of the Redemption, powers which fill humanity and all creation.” #52 

 As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we know that it is a day to thank God for His plenteous and overflowing gifts. What better place to begin our thanksgiving recollection than in Nazareth?

In the time of Christ there was a rather dismissive popular expression: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46)

“Yes” we might respond, “All Good – ‘the supreme grace’ of God, the true ‘powers of the Redemption’ filling humanity to overflowing, ‘grace upon grace’, and enduring hope!”

Meister des Marienlebens Annunciation (Detail with Unborn Jesus)



“WE ARE PEOPLE OF LIFE AND FOR LIFE” – ARCHBISHOP GOMEZ

(The following column by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez appeared in the Friday, Oct. 7, issue of the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings)

Blessed John Paul II said that as Christians we are called to be people of life and for life.

Our religion, in a beautiful and mysterious way, is deeply identified with human life. What other world religion remembers the time when its founder was in his mother’s womb?

Yet in our sacred Scriptures, we preserve the story of Jesus’ conception, his birth, and even some events from his early childhood. We retell these stories in our worship, year after year — at Christmas time, in feasts like the Annunciation. We remember the name of Jesus’ mother in our confession of faith, when we say Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary.”

Biblical religion is a religion in which family and children, and the promise of children, plays a big role.

Think of the stories of Abraham and Sarah and God’s promise to give them a son. Think of God’s words to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Again and again in the salvation history we read in the Bible, God’s plan is enacted through a woman who is with child. “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son …”

God loved us so much that he entered into this world as each one of us did — through the womb of a mother.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to love the Gospel story of the Visitation. She always pointed to this detail — how St. John the Baptist leapt in St. Elizabeth’s womb when Mary walked into the room.

She said: “Something very beautiful, something very wonderful happened. The first human being to recognize the presence of Jesus was the little one in the womb of his mother — who leaped with joy. It is so beautiful to think that God gave that little unborn child the greatness of proclaiming the presence of Jesus on earth.”

Click here to read the rest of his statement.



The Feast of the Sacred Heart: 20 reasons to turn your heart towards the Infant Christ
June 30, 2011, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, Sacred Heart, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

“Virgin’s First Communion” Pianist Jacqueline Chew

Olivier Messiaen (December 10, 1908 – April 27, 1992) was a devout and well-respected French Catholic composer.  Olivier Messiaen wrote  Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus ,  a collection of pieces for solo piano in 1944. The French title translates “Twenty gazes/contemplations on the infant Jesus”. It is considered to be one of the greatest piano works of the twentieth century, and the summit of Messiaen’s keyboard writing. The idea of les regards, the spiritual gazes, came from the devotional book Le Christ dans ses Mystères by the Irish-Belgian Benedictine Abbot Dom Columba Marmion.

The gaze is a profound moment of passionate contemplation, spiritual communication and two-way recognition: an exchange, to use one of Marmion’s favorite words, in which love and knowledge passed in both directions between God and humanity.

Some of Messiaen’s ‘gazes’ on the Infant Jesus include: Gaze of the Father, Gaze of the Star, The Exchange, Gaze of the Son upon the Son, By Him everything was made, The Kiss of the Infant Jesus, Glance of Silence (click here to see all of the pieces)…the piece that touches on our blog’s theme is: ‘Premiere Communion de la Vierge’. (No. 11, “Virgin’s First Communion”) and represents the Virgin on her knees, worshiping the unborn Jesus within her.

Olivier Messiaen wrote notes for each of the glances/regards. Here is what he wrote about the Premiere communion de la Vierge:

“Première communion de la Vierge [First Communion of the Virgin]. A tableau in which the Virgin is shown kneeling, bowed down in the night-a luminous halo around her womb. Eyes closed, she adores the fruit hidden within her. This comes between the Annunciation and the Nativity: it is the first and greatest of all communions. Theme of God, gentle scrolls, in stalactites, in an inner embrace. (Recall of the theme of La Vierge l’Enfant from my Nativity du Seigneur for organ, 1935). Magnificat more enthusiastic. Special chords and durations of two and two in which the weighty pulsations represent the heartbeats of the Infant in the breast of his mother. Disappearance of the Theme of God. After the Annunciation, Mary adores Jesus within her…my God, my son, my Magnificat!-my love without the sound of words.”

Here are two links:

Program Notes for Twenty Glances on the Infant JesusVingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus

The Elusive Allure of  Olivier Messiaen

 



HAVE YOU SEEN THE LIGHT ?
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….



“JUSTICE AND PEACE WILL KISS” IN THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST
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!



Celebrating your birthday the St. John Eudes Way
February 28, 2011, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Saints, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Here is how most people celebrate their birthdays!

223742223_62c99b33d9.jpg

But the great St. John Eudes didn’t look at it quite like that and wrote an extremely lengthy prayer for Christians to recite on their birthdays. Here are a few excerpts:

Prayer to Jesus for the Anniversary of Your Birth

“O Jesus, I adore Thee in Thy eternal birth and Thy divine dwelling for all eternity in the bosom of Thy Father. I also adore Thee in Thy temporal conception, and in Thy presence in the sacred womb of Thy most pure mother, for the space of nine months, and in Thy birth into this world at the end of that time. I adore and revere the great and admirable occurrence of these mysteries…

Again I adore and glorify Thee, O Good Jesus, as performing all these things for Thyself, and for me and for everyone in the world. On this anniversary of my birth I give myself to Thee, O my Dear Jesus, that I may now repeat the acts Thou didst perfect while dwelling from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, and for nine months in the womb of Thy mother…

Such, O my Lord, is the rightful homage I ought to have rendered to Thee, had I been able, at the moment of my birth, and indeed from the first moment of my life, that I now endeavor to render to Thee, although very tardily and imperfectly…

In Thy temporal birth, Thou didst render for me to Thy Father all the rightful homage I should have rendered Him at my own birth, and Thou didst then practice all the acts and exercises of devotion that I should have practiced. Be Thou blessed for ever!”

St. John Eudes, The Life and the Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls

stjohn_eudes_lg.jpg



Saint Juliana of Cornillon and the Unborn Christ Child
February 21, 2011, 12:02 am
Filed under: Saints, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

The Vision of St. Juliana (1191-1258) of Mont Cornillon (about 1645/50)

Philippe de Champaigne 1602 – 1674


You may have never heard of  St. Juliana of Cornillon (Juliana of Liege), 1192 -1258. She was an Augustinian nun who was the first promoter of a feast day in honor of the Blessed Sacrament.  In his November 17, 2010 audience Pope Benedict spoke eloquently about St. Juliana.

“The Pope explained how the Belgian saint “possessed great culture, … and a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced particularly intensely in the Sacrament of the Eucharist”.  At the age of sixteen she had a vision which convinced her of the need to establish a liturgical feast for Corpus Christi “in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist so as to augment their faith, increase the practice of virtue and mend the wrongs done to the Blessed Sacrament”, said the Holy Father.  Click here to read more.

What many people don’t know is that she also had a profound devotion to Christ in His Blessed Mother’s womb.  Here is an excerpt from a book about her life written in 1873 detailing this devotion.

“She had also a great devotion for the feasts of our Lady, but of all her feasts, the one she celebrated with most ardent devotion and piety was the feast of the Annunciation. It seemed as if she could never cease from meditating upon and admiring the celestial simplicity of the words of the angel Gabriel; the trouble that his salutation at first gave to Mary, the consent that she gave to become the Mother of God, the profound humility, the more than angelic modesty, and the ardent love, our Blessed Lady displayed upon this occasion.

At the thought of the Eternal Word descending from the bosom of His Father, and becoming man for love of us, her heart became so inflamed with love, that it seemed to her she could no longer contain it within her breast…

A devotion that she frequently recommended to the other religious, was to recite the ” Ave Maria,” and the canticle ” Magnificat,” nine times every day, in honour of the nine months our Lord dwelt in the womb of His ever Blessed Mother; and she assured them that she was indebted to the practice of this devotion for many favours and graces she had obtained from heaven.

When ever she recited or sung the “Magnificat,” she was accustomed to contemplate the fatigues our Blessed Lady suffered in her journey from Nazareth to the house of her cousin Elizabeth. She then considered the tender embraces of those two women so beloved by God, the joy with which St. John the Baptist leaped in the womb of his mother, at the approach of Mary, who bore his Saviour within her womb; then she meditated upon their holy salutations and the thanksgivings they afterwards rendered to God.”

From: The Life of St. Juliana of Cornillon by Brother George Ambrose Bradbury, O.C. 1873. pp 24-25



ADVENT – THE JOURNEY
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.



She carried Love Incarnate in Her womb
October 16, 2010, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Saints, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

La Vierge Enceinte Daniel Hallé

Église paroissiale Saint-Pierre, Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours

Commenting on the passage where “a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts that You sucked!” (Lk 11:27), the holy doctor (St. Anthony) says

“Blessed, therefore, is the womb of the glorious Virgin who for nine months was worthy to carry all goodness, the highest goodness, the bliss of angels and reconciliation of sinners.”

Elsewhere he writes that  “She possessed within Her the compactness of love—for nine months She carried Love Incarnate in Her womb.”

From The Marian Devotion of St. Anthony of Padua



THE NICENE CREED & MARY’S PREGNANCY
August 29, 2010, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Mother of the Lord, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Annuncia (Lorezo Venezian)

Two human beings are mentioned by name in the ancient Christian Creed so as to anchor our Christian beliefs in actual historical circumstances: “the Virgin Mary” and “Pontius Pilate”. The one mentioned in appreciation the other in depreciation. John the Baptist is not mentioned in the Creed, nor Joseph, nor Peter, nor Paul, nor the four evangelists.

“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;  he suffered, died, and was buried.”

“For us men”, “for our salvation” and “For our sake” are three critical phrases which give perspective about why God came into our world and did what He did. (Recall the famous verse John 3:16 ; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”)

The fantastic thing about this marvelous plan of salvation is that God did it “for you” and “for me” personally. But first, He did it for Mary! “…by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man”. At the very instant of the conception of Jesus Christ, Mary loved Him on your behalf. She loved Him with all of her being on your behalf, to say thank you on your behalf. She accepted Him with an inspired maternal love not only as Mother, but also on behalf of her other children (see Rev 12:17).

Let’s consider how blessed we are that Mary completely accepted Him and profoundly loved Him throughout her nine month pregnancy and thereafter, by recalling these words from the Prologue to John’s Gospel: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…” (Jn 1:10-12). Mary “received him” and she “believed in his name”. She was first among the “children of God”, but as His Mother, our mother too.

Through Mary, Christ “became man” – one of us, one with us. She immediately embraced Him with all of her love and thereby made the Incarnation of the Son of God an even more wonderful miracle because as a Sign of God’s Love it is accompanied by the best of our human love. God poured His Grace upon humanity in His Incarnation and humanity ( Mary) poured her affection and gratitude upon God! This is the way it should have been, this is the way it was. Sinful humanity (Herod) wanted a different outcome but Love prevailed – thanks be to God! (And thanks also to “the Virgin Mary”.)



“Behold the Lamb of God”
April 23, 2010, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Fathers of the Church, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

St. John the Baptist

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:

Saint John the Forerunner

St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of our Lord

St. John the Baptist



He emptied himself: from the womb to the cross
April 2, 2010, 12:09 am
Filed under: John Paul II, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Replica of the miraculous image of Mary Bogenberg

“Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

In his General Audience of February 17, 1988 entitled Jesus Christ Emptied Himself,  John Paul II  shows how this term applied to Jesus’ life from beginning to end.

“To express this mystery the apostle uses first of all the words “emptied himself,” which refers especially to the reality of the Incarnation. “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14). God the Son assumed human nature, humanity, and became true man, while remaining God!…

In this context, his becoming like man involved a voluntary renunciation, which extended even to the privileges he could have enjoyed as man. He assumed “the form of a slave.”

We see in the Gospels that Christ’s earthly life was marked by poverty from the very beginning. This was clearly set out in the account of his birth, when the evangelist Luke observed that “there was no room for them [Mary and Joseph] in the inn,” and that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger (cf. Lk 2:7).”

“From Matthew we learn that already in the first months of Jesus’ life, he experienced the lot of a refugee (cf. Mt 2:13-15).

His hidden life at Nazareth was lived in extremely modest conditions; the head of the family was a carpenter (cf. Mt 13:55) and Jesus himself worked with his putative father (Mk 6:3).”

“When he began his teaching, his situation continued to be one of extreme poverty, as he himself bore witness to in a certain way by referring to the precarious conditions of life imposed by his ministry of evangelization. ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head’ (Lk 9:58).

From its beginning, Jesus’ messianic mission encountered opposition and misunderstanding, despite the signs which he worked. He was observed and persecuted by those who had power and influence over the people.”

“Finally, he was accused, condemned and put to death on a cross, the most infamous of all forms of capital punishment. It was applied only for crimes of extreme gravity, especially to those people who were not Roman citizens, and to slaves. For this reason also it can be said with the Apostle that Christ literally took “the form of a slave” (Phil 2:7).

He wrote that Jesus Christ ‘humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8). Here Christ’s kenosis is described in its definitive dimension. From the human point of view it is the dimension of the self-emptying by means of his passion and cruel death.”




The Cross itself is already mysteriously present at the instant of the Incarnation
March 30, 2010, 5:19 pm
Filed under: John Paul II, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

Annunciation Scene – Jean Bellegambe

“The Cross itself is already mysteriously present at the instant of the Incarnation, at the very moment of Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb. Indeed, the ecce venio in the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. 10: 5-9)* is the primordial act of the Son’s obedience to the Father, an acceptance of his redeeming sacrifice already at the time ‘when Christ came into the world’.”

From the Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8 December 2003, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

* “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired;
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”
(Hebrews 10:5-7)



The wonder of the Annunciation
March 24, 2010, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Incarnation, The Incarnation, Unborn Jesus

The Annunciation by Giovanni Jacopo Caraglio

On May14, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel. Here is an excerpt from his homily:

“What happened here in Nazareth, far from the gaze of the world, was a singular act of God, a powerful intervention in history, through which a child was conceived who was to bring salvation to the whole world. The wonder of the Incarnation continues to challenge us to open up our understanding to the limitless possibilities of God’s transforming power, of his love for us, his desire to be united with us….

The Spirit who “came upon Mary” (cf. Lk 1:35) is the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of Creation (cf. Gen 1:2). We are reminded that the Incarnation was a new creative act. When our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived in Mary’s virginal womb through the power of the Holy Spirit, God united himself with our created humanity, entering into a permanent new relationship with us and ushering in a new Creation.”

Verkündigung Mariä

The narrative of the Annunciation illustrates God’s extraordinary courtesy (cf. Mother Julian of Norwich, Revelations 77-79). He does not impose himself, he does not simply pre-determine the part that Mary will play in his plan for our salvation: he first seeks her consent. In the original Creation there was clearly no question of God seeking the consent of his creatures, but in this new Creation he does so. Mary stands in the place of all humanity. She speaks for us all when she responds to the angel’s invitation. Saint Bernard describes how the whole court of heaven was waiting with eager anticipation for her word of consent that consummated the nuptial union between God and humanity. The attention of all the choirs of angels was riveted on this spot, where a dialogue took place that would launch a new and definitive chapter in world history. Mary said, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” And the Word of God became flesh.”

Annunciation

“When we reflect on this joyful mystery, it gives us hope, the sure hope that God will continue to reach into our history, to act with creative power so as to achieve goals which by human reckoning seem impossible.”

Pope Benedict, Homily at the Basilica of the Annunciation, May14, 2009