Today’s Gospel is one I’ve always enjoyed hearing – it gives me a taste of the sheer joy that is Christmas for Christians. Today, it served a different purpose. For some time, the Citizen has been concerned about a schism not only among Catholics but Christians as a whole – and that great divide is abortion. Now, how does the first Chapter of Luke become a lesson for the straying members of the flock?
39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.
40 And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.
41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
And the infant in my womb leaped with joy. Babies feel joy. People feel joy. Things that are alive, conscious, and possessing awareness feel joy. In this reading from Luke, John, a child still unborn, recognized the presence of the Messiah and his joy is so profound his mother felt it. This raises a couple of issues for the ‘pro-choice’ Christian.
Pope Leo XIII wrote the encyclical Providentissimus Deus in 1893. This was a thorough review of the history of the Bible from the time of the Church Fathers to the modern era. As part of this encyclical, Pope Leo articulated the Catholic doctrine that the Bible in all its parts were – and are – divinely inspired and that the ‘whole Bible is the word of God.’ Dei Verbum, coming some 70 years later, stated
Since, therefore, all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures.
This clearly establishes that the Bible is divinely inspired and that such an important event as Mary’s trip to visit Elizabeth clearly falls under the precepts of Providentissimus Deus and Dei Verbum. For Catholics, it is an article of faith the John leaped in his mother’s womb.
While our protestant brethren don’t often hold the Pope to be an authority, they have their own beliefs on biblical accuracy. In 1978, a group convened and drafted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. While signed by evangelicals, even a number of ‘mainstream’ protestant denominations have articulated positions that support at least the concept of infallibility. The concept of infallibility in the Bible is one that maintains that in matters of faith and Christian practice, the Bible is complete, useful, and true. Even by this lukewarm test, the passage that John ‘leaped in the womb’ certainly passes muster.
So, then, today, when countless Christians who support the genocide that is abortion, sat in their pews and listened to this Gospel passage as it was read, did they understand what they heard? Did they have an epiphany and allow the joy of that most blessed of events leap in their own hearts?
Probably not – and there is the pity. About half of all Catholics who voted this past November supported men and women who openly and aggressively advocate for abortion. My own congressman swept to an easy victory in a district with a substantial Catholic population. The gentlemen considers himself to be a practicing Catholic – and likely heard this Gospel in one of the parishes of the Diocese of Norwich.
You see, brothers and sisters, blobs of tissues don’t leap for joy. Cells don’t leap for joy. “Potential humans” don’t leap for joy. None of those cute little buzzwords that the pro-abortion crowd loves to trot out to salve their conscience applies to this Gospel reading. None.
One last thing I ask of you, gentle reader. Think about a time when you saw a little baby chortle with joy, their eyes lit, their arms and legs flailing, that infectious grin and giggle filling the room not just with sound but with a palpable sense of pure delight. That is what John expressed and Elizabeth felt.
If you believe in the Bible, if you hold the stories of the Gospels to be articles of faith, how can you read or listen to this passage and still support abortion?
You can’t – not and be true to our Christian faith.
God Bless you and Merry Christmas to you all