The mystery of God’s maternal love is expressed with particular power in the Hebrew word, rahamim. Etymologically, this word means “womb” but was later used to mean divine compassion for man, God’s mercy.” – Jesus of Nazareth: Part I Pope Benedict XVI
As I sat with my pregnant friend Ashley, I pondered the baby in utero. Remembering my own pregnancies, listening to the heartbeat of my children on the sonogram, in which I could also sometimes hear my own heartbeat. It occurred to me that when the baby’s heart first starts beating, the heart rate is similar to that of the mother. And Jesus showed me my heart beating in unison with his.
Then another image came to me. The baby in the womb is immersed in blood and water provided by the mother’s body. And I remembered the words of Pope Benedict above, and how the word womb came to be known as God’s mercy.
The family, the domestic church, is all about God’s Divine mercy. When a baby enters the world, covered in the blood and water of his mother, and created with the DNA of both his mother and father, he enters with God’s intention of sending him into the loving arms of that mother and father. A communion that started at conception and was meant to continue all the days of our lives. But Satan brought death and disorder to this union.
Eve was formed from the side of Adam, so from the beginning woman was formed from man. She was created with the cooperation of Adam and God and given as a gift, body, and soul. As with any gift from God, when recognized fully as such, one is moved by immense gratitude, which draws love for the giver. God the Father, out of love for Adam, gives the gift of Eve. This gift is created out of charity and is the fruit of that love. It is through Adam’s recognition of the gift that he is able to express his love and gratitude to God.
Then God gave the man and woman a role to play in His creative work by giving them the gift of creating new life, from which only God had done on his own previously. This gift is an intimate cooperation with God… man, woman, and God are all needed to create and breathe new life into a child. This gift was recognized by Adam and Eve and allowed them to express their love and gratitude to God. Thus with each creative and unitive act, man, woman, and God are all present.
But listening to the lies of Satan we have distorted and destroyed what God gave as beautiful. It started when the gift of this intimate union between man, woman, and God ceased to be recognized as a gift from the Divine Giver. It started at the fall when they blamed each other. In our modern culture, the sexual revolution coerced men and women to ungratefully take God’s gift and claim it as their own “right”. Without recognition of the gift or the divine giver, men and women were then unable to express their love to God through this gift. They were unable to be grateful to the giver for this divine union that He has not only given them but through which he promised to be present within.
Among other things, this led to the destruction of marriages and the social acceptance of divorce. Even Moses had laws of divorce, yet look how much more we as a culture have embraced divorce. We have also embraced premarital sex, so a woman may be left alone, not in communion with a spouse when a new life is created within her womb. God does not cease being the giver of new life. He does not cease being fully present in the intimate union between man and woman. No matter if we recognize the gift as such or not, God is the Divine Giver. And His gift is twofold by allowing man and woman a participation in His creative and unitive work, and also through the creation of new life, the new body in the mother’s womb. This is why Christ said;
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” Matthew 19:4-9
The fruit of divorce and pre-marital sex, where a woman is left alone creates a situation where everyone is fending for themselves and not looking out for the other. It is disunity, not unity. It culminates when women then, in turn, can say today, “this is my body”. But the baby’s body is not her own, for it is distinct and separate from the woman’s body. At the moment of conception, the new life begins to grow and develop of its own accord. At first, this new life is completely reliant on the mother’s body in order to survive, but over the course of time, it develops its own functionality. Then at the time of birth, the new life is strong enough to completely separate itself and survive on its own. This reminds me of the parable of the growing seed.
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” -Mark 4:26-29
Much like the farmer in this parable who scatters seed upon the earth, when man participates with God and woman in the intimate sexual act, the seed he scatters on the fertile ground will yield new life. Jesus further explains through this parable that this seed then sprouts and grows on its own, without the farmer having to do anything. The farmer does not know how the seed grows, but it almost mysteriously does. The gift from God to Adam and Eve was for man and woman to be involved in the intimate and unitive act of God’s work of creating a new life. Once this new life is created it becomes its own entity that mysteriously sprouts and grows on its own accord.
Today we hear the argument that the child in the mother’s womb IS the mother’s body. She has the “right” to do what she wishes with her body. But the new life within the mother’s womb, although required her participation to create, at the moment of conception ceases to be her own possession, but instead becomes its own entity, sprouting and growing on its own. With this, we must recognize that not only are our bodies a gift from God but so too the baby in the mother’s womb is also a gift from God. The question then becomes do we recognize this gift? Only when we do are we able to then express our love and gratitude to the Divine Giver. Without the recognition by man and woman of this gift, the mercy of God continues to be rejected.
God sent his only Son in humility taking on the body we were given. God in the womb of a human being, the Blessed Mother Mary. Jesus, Divine Mercy Himself, was a fetus that was at the mercy of his Mother, his foster father Joseph, and his society. A mother, not yet married, trusting the Angel Gabriel. A foster-father, who had mercy on his betrothed, listened to the will of God and took her as his wife. A society that would have killed her and her baby if the two of them had not cooperated with God and with each other. And so Divine Mercy was born.
And he proclaimed, “this is my body given up for you,” showing us how to restore communion. And from that Divine Mercy, blood and water poured out from his side on the cross, and just as Eve had been created from the side of Adam, the Church was created from the side of God on the Cross. The Church, the bride of Christ, and the Mystical Body brought forth to restore communion. Restore communion with God and with one another. Leaving us His very DNA in the Mass, so we can run into the loving arms of the Father. He came to show us how to sacrifice for one another and have communion again. This is why we must defend life. If we cannot recognize life and children as a gift and instead look at them as property rights and commodities, our society will continue to deteriorate because we are not grateful for the gift. Ungratefulness wreaks destruction. It rejects Divine Mercy. Pray for marriage and families. Pray for the unborn. This is not meant as a judgment on those who have committed these sins, but rather a call to turn back to your loving Creator and be grateful. Remember, no matter your past, He can make all things new. That’s Divine Mercy.