Jesus Was an Embryo. We Can’t Let Anyone Hurt His Brothers and Sisters

By Deacon Keith Fournier Published on December 16, 2016

I was once a baby. If someone had killed that baby, he would have killed me. That’s the point the director of the The Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, England, recently made in a paper on the ethics of embryo research. David Albert Jones asked: “What then is the significance of destroying a human embryo?”

He answered with a clarity all too often missing: “It is destroying a human being at the first stage of his or her life.”

The Beginning of the Incarnation

Christians will soon celebrate Christmas. We call it the Feast of the Nativity, the birth, for a reason. It’s not the Feast of the Incarnation. The Nativity is a part of the Incarnation, but the Incarnation began with Jesus’s conception.

There was a Redeemer in the womb of Mary!

I’m not parsing words here. This is a crucial point.

John begins his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 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.” In the 14th verse he writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”

From the moment that the Word became Incarnate, His saving mission began. He was the Savior from the moment of His conception. There was a Redeemer in the womb of Mary! In the Eastern Christian Churches, the most popular icon reveals the child Jesus ruling and teaching from within His mother’s womb.

That icon points to a profound truth. Jesus lived first in every human person’s first home, his mother’s womb. This means that every human pregnancy, every womb, every child in the womb, is elevated beyond the dignity he already has. Jesus was an embryonic person and He identified Himself with all embryonic persons.

We should do the same. What does this mean?

From a prayer composed by Pope Benedict XVI:

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life, truly present and alive among us, we beg you:

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life, make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb the miraculous work of the Creator, open our hearts to generously welcoming every child that comes into life.

Bless all families, sanctify the union of spouses, render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies with the light of your Spirit, so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect the sacred nature of life, of every human life. …

Console the married couples who suffer because they are unable to have children and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children, so they may experience the warmth of your Charity, the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer, in whose womb you took on our human nature, we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior, the strength to love and serve life, in anticipation of living forever in You, in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Never an It

On September 8, 2008, the Vatican released a passionate defense of the dignity of every single human life. The Latin title, Dignitatis Personae, is taken from the first line, ”The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.” The document explained, “This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life.”

The human being is never an “it,” but an “I” — someone who must never be treated as an object:

The body of a human being, from the very first stages of its existence, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively, according to a well-defined program, with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.

Noting what science shows us about the development of each person, Dignitatis Personae points out that we cannot believe in “either a change in nature or a gradation in moral value.” The unborn child doesn’t change into a real person at some point, nor does he become more worthy of our care. “The human embryo has, therefore, from the very beginning, the dignity proper to a person.”

We have another reason to love and protect the unborn child. As Pope Benedict XVI said: “God’s love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother’s womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness in each one.”

The Image of God

That fertilized egg, that blastocyst, that embryo, that fetus, shows us the image of God. Our world only sees something it can manipulate or destroy at will. But we see what that child really is: a Gift created in the image of the God who loves the world so much that He gave His Son.

We see something even more important than that. As we commemorate the Nativity of the Lord, we remember that Jesus was a fertilized egg, a blastocyst, an embryo, a fetus. There was a Redeemer in the Womb. He was the Son of God at every stage of His life. The unborn Jesus in Mary’s womb was what St. Paul told us in his letter to the Colossians: “the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.”

He is identified with all unborn persons and we should follow His example. Christmas challenges Christians to stand in solidarity with unborn persons. As we sing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve, let us remember that the Word became flesh nine months before He came to nestle next to His Mother in the wonder and beauty of that manger, on that silent and holy night.

Let us also remember that with every procured abortion, a different silence begins. It’s the silence of the rejection of the gift of a child. A child who was just like Jesus, our Lord. A child who was just like us.

Christian Solidarity begins in the womb. Christmas is the Feast of the Nativity, the celebration of Jesus’s birth. It’s also the holy day on which we remember those who never got to be born, and the day we commit ourselves again to helping those now in danger of abortion to come into our world, as our Lord did, on that first Christmas.


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