For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Your Eyes Saw My Unformed Body
A recovery of maternity as an act of consecration to God.
I know a Christian mother who, a few years after having her last child, was diagnosed with uterine cancer. The doctors outlined several ways to approach the problem, and the viable option for her health was the complete extraction of the uterus. The situation in that moment was full of anguish because, amid the process, the doctors realized that she was pregnant. However, to our surprise, a wonderful thing happened: the baby began to grow, and as it grew in the uterus, the cancer began to disappear until returning to complete health. How wonderful! The life that was formed there was more powerful than the death that threatened.
Christians know that pregnancy is more than a simple act of nature. God is present in each conception.
God is present
The mystery of a life that is being formed is not hidden from God’s eyes, nor from the working of His power. In the Scriptures, all women who were sterile prayed to God with faith, and conceived children.
God Himself formed us in our mother’s womb: “For you created me in my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb... your eyes saw my unformed body.” (Psalm 139:13) God chose us from before the foundation of the world, to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5).
For this reason, we value maternity, and we dignify those who consecrate their wombs as an offering and sacrifice to God in an act of love. “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1Chronicals 29:14)
Because of this, Christian parents are entitled to hope that the Holy Spirit, who brings sonship to the children of God, can completely fill the life that is forming in the womb. This is, without doubt, the most valuable hope in maternity.
Full of the Holy Spirit
As for pregnancy and birth, Luke, “the beloved doctor”, registers details which are not told in the other gospels, in relation to Mary and Elizabeth’s pregnancies. We know the general circumstances of the Lord’s life and also John the Baptist’s, even before they were conceived.
I would like to draw special attention to John’s life, starting from the Lord’s declaration that involves all the children of the Kingdom: “I tell you, among those born of women there is no-one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28)
The truth that is revealed here is of incalculable value for a Christian mother. The reality that she can carry the blessing of God in her womb is effective and real. If these words were said of John – the last prophet of the Old Covenant– how much more can those children who enjoy the grace of the new Covenant be full of the Holy Spirit? If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6;19), won’t this also be true of the child who is formed in the womb? Hallelujah! Our children can be full of Christ’s Spirit, even from their conception. What a glorious truth, what blessed grace!
Zacharias is told: “Fear not… For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)
Let us consider what the angel says about John the Baptist, in order to extract the principles of a child who is formed and born under these conditions.
“Fear not, your prayer has been heard and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son...” Israel was under the oppressive yoke of the Romans, so while Zacharias offered incense at the altar, the people were pleading for their liberation. On the other hand, perhaps Zacharias, already of old age, dared to present, for the last time, and almost without faith, the prayer that he had pronounced together with his wife for so long: “Lord give us a son.” And God responded.
The answer was so surprising that Zacharias was perplexed. Elizabeth was sterile, and both were well advanced in years. They didn’t have any other hope except in God (Luke 1:6). Thus, children don’t come from our virility, our fecundity, but from divine will.
Respect the divine desire
“...and you will call him John.” To each son has been granted a particular grace, designed from eternity, implanted into the formation and ready to be developed from birth. Zacharias dared to go against an entire Jewish family tradition by giving him a name like John, affirming in his own heart the way that God had traced for that son. Likewise, Christian parents should have the firm determination of respecting a divine desire, to believe in the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of our children and to raise them in the discipline and admonishment of the Lord.
A reason for joy
“He will be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth...” The pressure that the world places on people today generates anguish even before the arrival of a child. The hedonist emphasis on independence turns children into a burden which is difficult to carry. The socio-economic pressure hinders the arrival of children; many Christian parents are prisoners of a worldly and selfish lifestyle. It is necessary for God’s presence through the Spirit to take possession of the life of children even before they are born. The fruit of the Spirit is joy. Consciousness of God’s work in the arrival of a child to a Christian marriage, whatever the circumstances, will cause an explosion of joy that is not a product of the soul, but of the Spirit.
John the Baptist’s bond to redemption in Christ made many rejoice as a result of his birth. Thus when our children are born, they are intimately bound to the redemptive work of Christ, and are provided with all the possibilities to remain in the faith, and to take up their profession as children of God.
There is an important point to highlight here. It is clear that those that take hold of the faith obtain promises which involve all those in their house. It is a false notion that our children have to know the world and its desires before coming to the faith. Many Christian parents, by not taking hold of God’s promises have become weakened, being permissive with their children, consenting them whims that take them further and further away from Christ, and therefore only obtaining grief and sadness as a result. The misleading premise that hides here is in thinking that the action of sin is more powerful than the action of the Holy Spirit. We have everything in our favour so that our children grow and develop under grace. Without a doubt, this is a reason for joy.
Great in the sight of God
“...for he will be great in the sight of God...” This is glorious; being great in the sight of God. It may be the case that our children don’t measure up to the stature that the world demands, that they don’t become celebrities, but they will be great before God.
John the Baptist’s life was absolutely atypical. His dress, his food, the place where he lived; they were not things that one would envy, but the Lord said of him: “Among those born of women there is no-one greater than John.” What does it matter not being great in the sight of the world, if we are great in the sight of God!
“He shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” This restriction reveals to us the essence of the character of the Holy Spirit in the consecration of children for the divine purpose. For John it meant a vow that he completed every day of his life. For our children it implies being consecrated to Christ’s life that grows in them. The Holy Spirit will take charge of guiding them, taking that of Christ and making it known to us parents and to our children. The will of God is that none who belong to Him be lost, and that all grow being transformed into the image of the Son.
“From my mother’s womb you have been my God” (Psalms 22:10).