June 26, 2019

Could We Live Without Jesus?

There was this beautiful Hebrew girl, with flowing black hair and a sweet, radiant smile. She got pregnant out of wedlock, but she found a fine young man who was willing to marry her although the baby was not his. She did not tell anybody else about the baby growing inside her. She knew too well that girls like herself were routinely stoned to death.

That was the law. What to do? She wrestled with different options, then, unwilling to saddle her fiancée with an unwarranted burden, she decided to abort. She went to the village fortune-teller who gave her a potent potion that took care of her “problem.” That girl’s name was Mary and her fiancée’s name was Joseph and both lived in Nazareth.

“Fr. Dino, are you out of your mind? That is not the way the story ended at all!”

You will hurry to point out to me with horror.

You are right.

Countless people across two millennia have been repeating Elizabeth’s solemn words: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But this scenario is quite possible. Mary had more reasons than most women to kill Jesus, the baby growing in her womb.

Imagine: no Christmas, no healing, no teaching about our heavenly Father’s love, no Eucharist, no dying on cross, no resurrection. And, most importantly, no eternal life. We would have never learned how to pray as we should…All our love for Jesus, our struggle to follow him, all sighs, our entreaties, all in vain. We would be living in darkness and despair; fighting instead of sharing; exploiting instead of helping; stealing instead of giving; manipulating instead of catering; oppressing instead of serving.

God, who respects our freedom, would have respected hers. He would have been unable to carry out His promise of salvation. The Son, who came into world to replace the holocausts of old, with the sacrifice of his will to the will of the Father, would have been unable to offer his body on the cross to save us.

Could we live without Jesus?  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

So we must wonder how Mary could be so courageous in carrying Jesus in her womb for nine months. With very few exceptions, the decision to abort is a very painful one: yet, the pressure from family members unwilling to endanger their reputation; many times, pressure from the baby’s father, pressure from society who doesn’t want another loafer on welfare; pressure from an uncertain future if the woman’s career is sacrificed; pressure from lack of support, lack of money and pressure from other sides make the mother-to-be feel trapped, alone, scared…

So, how could Mary choose life; choose to give life to the Author of Life? Elizabeth answers that question: Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.

In the Gospel of Luke (1:39-45), we find an important word: “BLESSED.” This word is not like saying, how happy, how lucky, or how fortunate. The word “blessed” stems from the realization that God has looked with favor, with infinite predilection, with boundless love upon someone and made her overflowing with His divine gifts.

What Mary brought to God’s plan of salvation was her trust that the Creator God could find a way to free her of all fears and extol her as the Mother of His Son, even when, humanly speaking, there was no way out of her scary predicament.

Such trust is worthy of the compliment of Elizabeth, of St. Luke, of all of us, because it stands in sharp contrast with the reaction and the decisions made by people who choose not to trust Him. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Undoubtedly, Elizabeth must have remembered Psalm 127. “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is His reward.”

These words sound surrealistic in our world nowadays. Since Roe vs. Wade over 40 years tens of millions fruits of the womb have been poisoned, burned with saline solution, minced to bits, sucked by a suction machine, then incinerated  or tossed out as trash.

In some cases, of course, fruits of the womb have been used to make cosmetics for a youthful appearance, to harvest organs for shameful profit, or for medical research… The latter reason makes abortion so much more palatable, right? Yet, any sane and honest person must wonder how many in that enormous number of terminated fruits of the womb would have grown up to be a scientist, a surgeon, a visionary, a genius fostering, improving, bettering life.

Christmas is our Christian way of celebrating life. This is the life that God desired from all eternity to share with us on a biological level through our parents and the Life that he, also from all eternity, wants to share with us in order to make us members of His global, spiritual family and beloved brothers and sisters of Jesus.

Why is it that his gift of life is not appreciated by so many in our western world?  Why is it unwanted, contrasted, attacked, destroyed? It is because of the freedom with which God has endowed us all. There are two worlds been created and shaped at the same time. There is the world of life shaped by God along with those who, like Mary, are blessed because they trust in Him. And there is the world of delusion, of vapors, of arrogance, of self-indulgence, of emptiness, of irresponsibility, of aloofness, of instant gratification, of death.

We are free to choose:

  1. To build our own world and let others build their godless world. In this case, then, our Christmas joy will be quick in coming. But it will end right after the last gift has been unwrapped, the in-laws are gone, and we would have to tackle a slight indigestion of turkey and ham.
  2. Or we choose to lend God a hand in building his world of life.

Now, those of us who worship the Lord have chosen God’s world of life; we want our celebration of life to go on and on. We do this with patience, endurance, painstakingly cooperating, accepting responsibility for our actions, being docile to his design; eager to carry out his will, trusting in his power to help us through the most difficult times.

If today we choose to hear his Word, and to act upon it, we shall be blessed by him as Mary was. And our Christmas celebration of life will go on and on.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin

REVEREND DINO VANIN, PIME was born in Cendon di Silea, Province of Treviso, Italy in 1946. He entered the PIME Seminary at Treviso at the tender age of eleven. He came to the U.S. in 1968, studying Theology at Darlington Major Seminary in New Jersey. He has an MA in Secondary School Administration from Seton Hall University. Ordained in 1972, he served as an administrator, teacher, rector and principal at the PIME High School Seminary in Newark, Ohio before being sent to the missions of Thailand, where he served for six years. He is currently the Treasurer of the U.S. Region of PIME in Detroit. On December 16, 2018 he was installed as Pastor of San Francesco Catholic Church in Clinton Township, MI. Every week he takes some time off from his parish ministry to do some administrative work at PIME headquarters in Detroit. Due to his increased workload at the parish while continuing as Treasurer of the U. S. Region of PIME and as counselor and spiritual director, he spends any time left doing a little woodworking.

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Written by Fr Dino Vanin