Updated: Jan 9, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you!” WOW! Those words were heard in our first reading last weekend and I couldn’t help but be moved. While the focus of my homily was on the second reading and seeing the words of Saint Paul as a job description for us as Christians, I couldn’t help but be struck by these words at each Mass I celebrated.
Jeremiah didn’t ask to be a prophet. Jeremiah didn’t want to be a prophet. Jeremiah knew very well that he wasn’t qualified to be a prophet. But God made him a prophet anyway. God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” And that was true.
Before Jeremiah was conceived, God knew all about Jeremiah’s life. God knew that Jeremiah was going to preach during Judah’s most troubled times. God knew how much Jeremiah would suffer for saying what God sent him to say. God knew that Jeremiah would be jailed, persecuted, and nearly put to death by the very people who should have been protecting him. Before he formed him in his mother’s womb, God knew how hard life would be for Jeremiah. But God also knew how he would carry Jeremiah through all those troubles. He knew that Jeremiah would serve his Lord on earth with suffering but then rejoice with his Lord in heavenly joy.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Those words that the Father spoke to Jeremiah also apply to Jesus. Before Jesus was born, God the Father also had a gracious, loving plan for him; He didn’t wait until his Son was hanging on the cross and then say, “well, I might be able to do something saving with that death.” The Father had the crucifixion all planned out in advance. Before he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, the Father knew Jesus. The Father knew:
1. That Jesus would get into trouble for speaking the Lord’s Word
2. That Jesus’ hometown people would try to throw him off a cliff
3. That the religious leaders of the time would keep scheming to kill his Son — and eventually, in His own time, they would succeed
4. That Jesus’ friends would desert Him just when He needed them the most
5. That His Son would be mocked and flogged and finally crucified.
But God the Father also knew that Jesus’ death was the way He would keep us sinners from having to spend all eternity in hell. He knew that Jesus would take our sin, take our guilt, take our death, and give us His life.
These words could also be spoken about each of us! God knew each of us before we were born. God had every reason to give up on us, to wash his hands of all humanity, to simply scrap this world that He created so well and we messed up so badly. But instead of aborting us worthless people, he decided to adopt us. Before you were born, before you were even conceived, God knew exactly how he was going to bring you to faith. Maybe it was when he adopted you by water and His Word at the font of Baptism. Or maybe someone told you that Jesus died for your sins. Maybe you don’t even remember when you first came to faith. It doesn’t matter. God remembers. He had it all planned out.
Think about it for real. Take a moment and reflect on this! Before your parents ever laid eyes on each other, before your grandparents had ever heard of each other, God knew you! God loves you so deeply that he had your salvation planned before you were a twinkle in your father’s eye!
Before God forms any child in the womb, He knows him or her already! God has a plan for every child he has ever formed in the womb. Sometimes we think of abortion as a political issue that has no place in the pulpit. And if abortion were purely a political issue, it would have no place in the pulpit. But God’s Word has something to say about abortion. Abortion may be legal in American courts, but it is certainly not acceptable in God’s courts. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that unborn children are not persons “in the whole sense.” Not persons in the whole sense? That’s essentially what Hitler said about Jewish people—that they aren’t persons in the same sense. NO NOT ACCEPTABLE!
Every life, from the moment of conception until natural death, is part of God’s plan! WAKE UP PEOPLE OF AMERICA. I was horrified to read the articles recently regarding the State of New York’s Reproductive Health Act which was signed into law by a governor who claims to be Catholic. This bill no longer has limits. No time limit. No limit as to who can perform an abortion. We cannot sit by callously as one to two million babies a year are aborted. We cannot just sit by while such laws, that would have been considered incomprehensible twenty to forty years ago, are being presented and discussed in office dwellings and public places. This is murder. They can shield it in whatever terminology they want but to pass a law that allows someone to abort their baby up until and including the day of his or her birth—this is murder. There is no question about it. THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF CHOICE. If so then what are they choosing? Life? No they are looking to call it choice to take the stigma away from the fact that they are looking for the choice to kill a life that God formed in the womb! Please my friends stir up and advocate for life! Help build a culture of life here in our parish, in our community, and indeed in our country and world. Let us do our part whether by prayer or actual activity to build a culture of life! Let us help others see that there are other life-giving alternatives.
While I write this I also am reminded that I know people, and perhaps you do too, who either had an abortion or assisted in an abortion who continue to grieve over that fact. I have heard from friends, and parishioners, who have been involved in abortions about the pain. I have heard of their feeling trapped by being angry with themselves, and of the emotional and spiritual wounds of a past abortion that prevent them from experiencing the joy of our faith. There is a program designed to help men and women who are experiencing this type of pain and suffering! Rachel’s Vineyard, www.rachelsvineyard.org, offers a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. I know from those who have attended these retreats of the healing it can bring into one’s life, of the experience of God’s love and compassion, and of the sense of hope and meaning for the future that is rediscovered. To anyone and everyone in this situation please know of my prayers for you!
Let us be people who not only respect life, but do what we can to build a deeper appreciation for the gift it is, a gift from God.
As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world.