In one week we Christians, genuine and cultural, will celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. For cultural Christians the celebration is traditional, festive and nostalgic. For genuine Christians it is all that, and more importantly the recognition that, “…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
God chose Mary, full of grace, to be the vessel through whom the Messiah would come. This girl of 14, 15 or 16 responded to the Father, by way of Gabriel, by saying,
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
At a point in space and time this girl, pregnant, but not by her betrothed, very well could have suffered death by stoning for such a sin. Yet she demonstrated the faith of the mightiest of God’s saints by accepting whatever God had planned for her, not yet knowing that Gabriel would also be visiting Joseph to instruct him in what his response to her pregnancy should be. Later during Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, their conversation became a poetic expression of how acutely aware each woman was of the baby that already lived within her womb.
“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby 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 to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord (Luke 1: 39-45).’”
For Mary and Elizabeth there is no doubt of the humanity of the unborn.
In contrast, we have come to a point in these post modern times where, despite the advances in technology which allow us to see the developing baby inside the womb, and to observe him sleeping, sucking or responding to noises in the outside world, we have hardened our hearts and we refuse to credit the developing child with humanity
And that leads me to the whole point of this post. According to the following story, a woman in Virginia gave birth to a full term baby in her home and then strangled the child while it was still attached to the umbilical cord. According to Virginia law this precludes the authorities from charging the woman with any crime since the child was technically still part of her body.
The second link is a pertinent commentary on this story.
The birth of Jesus was pivotal in history and the first step toward the ultimate restoration of the shattered relationship between God and man. The angelic proclamation on the night of the birth in Bethlehem saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will!” (Luke 2:14), is the official announcement that now there will be peace on Earth. Not peace between men, but peace between God and man because of the arrival at the appointed time of the Father’s only Son as the mediator between God and man. Thankfully Mary’s embrace of this untimely (for her) arrival has made it possible for the salvation that came to the Jew first and then the Gentiles.