The Redeemer in the Womb and the Evil of Abortion

By Deacon Keith Fournier Published on December 22, 2015

Soon the world will pause to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. The feast is traditionally called ”the Nativity of the Lord,” but many mistakenly refer to it as “the Feast as the Incarnation.” Some use the words “Nativity” and “Incarnation” interchangeably. That matters for many reasons, including the ongoing evil of legal abortion.

The Incarnation began the moment Mary said yes (Luke 1:26-38). The Word through whom the Father made the whole universe lived for nine months in the first home of every human person. From His mother’s womb, Jesus was already saving the world and beginning creation anew. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became an embryonic human person, a fetus, a child in the womb.

Many ancient icons of Mary show Jesus in her womb with his holy hands outstretched, already at work accomplishing his saving and redemptive work. This image points to the primary reason Christians must be uncompromisingly pro-life: There was a Redeemer in the womb. The Redeemer in the womb identifies with every child in the womb. Every pregnancy, every womb, every child in the womb, is created and blessed by God.

Even Before He was Formed

Pope Benedict XVI explained the significance of this for modern life in an address to the Church’s Academy for Life, who were holding a meeting on ‘”The Human Embryo in the Pre-Implantation Phase.” Scripture tells us that God’s loves every human being “even before he has been formed in his mother’s womb,” he says, quoting Jeremiah’s “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer 1: 5) and the psalmist’s “You did form my inward parts, you did knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13-14).

Then he says: “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 (Gn 1: 26) in each one.” The Father

makes no distinctions because he perceives in all of them a reflection of the face of his Only-begotten Son. . . . Indeed, the human person has been endowed with a very exalted dignity, which is rooted in the intimate bond that unites him with his Creator: a reflection of God’s own reality shines out in the human person, in every person, whatever the stage or condition of his life.

Therefore, Benedict explains, the Catholic Church “has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable character of every human life from its conception until its natural end.” As St. John Paul II says in his great statement Evangelium Vitae,

Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All human beings, from their mothers’ womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the “book of life” (cf. Ps 139: 1, 13-16). There too, when they are still in their mothers’ womb — as many passages of the Bible bear witness — they are the personal objects of God’s loving and fatherly providence.

This has practical implications not only for abortion but for the use of the new reproductive technologies. In 2008, the Catholic Church released an instruction on the pressing bioethical and moral issues of our age. The Dignity of the Person begins with the declaration, “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.  This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world.”

The instruction does not discourage progress in biomedicine but insists that science be placed at the service of the human person. Medicine must respect the fact that the human body is never an “it” but always an “I”: “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 ac”cording to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.” It reminds us that “in the least among us, one meets Christ himself (cf. Mt 25:40).”

Don’t Confuse the Two

That’s why we shouldn’t confuse the Incarnation with the Nativity. In two days we will commemorate the Nativity of the Lord, and as we’re waiting for that glorious feast day let us remember there was a Redeemer in the Womb. Jesus was an unborn child — was even a mere “clump of cells,” as some of the opponents of the Right to Life disparagingly describe the newly conceived child —  and is identified with all unborn children, with every so-called “clump of cells.”

The Child Jesus in the womb reminds us that every child in the womb is our neighbor and that it is always and everywhere wrong to take the life of an innocent neighbor.  As we celebrate His Birth, let us rededicate ourselves to ending the evil of legal abortion.

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