*Warning! Below post contains an image some may consider graphic*
Today we celebrate the birth of the final prophet and first among men to know of the Messiah’s coming. The Virgin was first told by the angel Gabriel and accepted the great burden she was to endure. For this she is forever remembered and praised as the Theotokos. John knew of Christ’s coming before he had even opened his eyes and beheld the world outside his mother’s womb.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” – Luke 1:41-45
The significance of this cannot be understated. The pharisees, scribes, doctors of the law, and priests who had all been searching for signs of the Messiah could not identify him when he stood before him. Yet, an “undeveloped”and unborn infant without the aid of sight, sound, or education could know that Christ was near and that his soul yearned for his Savior. Is it any wonder, then, that Christ would later tell the apostles that they must be “as little children” to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Indeed, the vigilante can state from experience that children sometimes can humble us by being able to see what is plainly before them (there is much truth to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’).
Tragically, in our own day, the infants are treated as commodities at best and inconvenient annoyances at worst. A “blob of tissue” that can be cast aside with no ramification of the law, and worse, the conscience. Even as we Catholics do what we can in prayer and physically to end this slaughter (and often, to our shame, we do comparatively little), perhaps some of us can look to the theological mistakes that birthed this hideous dehumanization. After all, is not denying Communion and the Sacrament of Initiation until the “Age of Reason” a statement that a child is an incomplete person until their mind is “formed”? What of those who say that the infants cannot possibly speak for their salvation since they “lack the ability to choose” (an assertion the vigilante contests)? Is this not saying that heaven is barred from the very little children Christ told us to emulate?
Worse, what is it but the forerunner of the modern abortionists’ arguments? When we deny that these least of our brethren can make a spiritual decision, it is but a small step before we decide that they are unable and unworthy to speak for their temporal lives.
For,as I have stated before, rationalism is death. It narrows the intellect, dulls the will, saps love from the soul, and finally kills the body.
But the Forerunner of the Messiah, even as a “blob of tissue” without the “use of reason”, could understand what approached him two thousand years ago. He did need to be born, have the ability to speak, or receive a degree in theology to know and desire Christ. As the soul of the infant John reached out to his Savior, he was granted a most rare gift of grace for his fidelity and was sanctified while still in the womb (something that, as far as I know, was only explicitly granted to him and Jeremiah the Prophet in scripture).
A good physical allegory of how John’s soul reached out to Christ
Let us take the opportunity of this feast to remember the souls and bodies of the many unborn who have died and continue to die every day. Though we can (unfortunately) be assured that more will be offered on the altars of Moloch in the immediate future, we can at least beg God to grant them the grace to be saved just as he granted it to John the Forerunner all those centuries ago.
St. John the Forerunner, pray for us!