Sexual gratification as the ultimate pleasure in our society today, as well as pagan culture from two-thousand years ago has been ingrained in us as an absolute good. This mentality is so strong in us as a culture that whatever consequences that arrive from this mentality is a problem to eliminate, or get rid of when they should be celebrated. If John the Baptist or even Jesus Christ been conceived outside of the life-affirming Jewish culture there is a real possibility that one or both could have been prevented from being born through abortion or murdered after birth (infanticide) if contraception failed. Many individuals in today’s society, as well as outside Jewish culture from 2000 years ago, regard any living being before birth as something other than an actual living human being. But what does science and the Word of God say on this subject? Well, let’s see.
John the Baptist was born around 6 months before Jesus, was it at his birth that John can be first thought of as a living human being? Well , we know that many babies are living human beings even when they are born premature which means that John was a human being in the belly of his mother no matter if he was born a day, a week, a month even up to almost three months premature. As science advances we find the period of viability, where the baby can survive outside the mother’s womb, to be creeping to even earlier stages of gestation.
Logic tells us that location does not change the nature of something. Whether a baby is inside or outside a mother’s womb, it is still a human being. And since it is growing then this human being, no matter how small, is alive. Logic also tells us that if something is growing then it’s not dead.
A tumor may be an extension, or an appendage of the mother’s body but from the moment the sperm meets the egg to a full-grown fetus, this particular new entity has its own unique DNA. Therefore the fetus is not a mother’s ‘appendage’. It is separate although dependant on someone else to survive. Just as dependant as newborns are separate and dependant on someone else to feed and protect them. Just like the government protects the eggs of the endangered bald eagle in the same fashion as the bird itself, so too should we protect this newly formed living human being in the mother’s womb just as much as the newborn baby.
Scripture is also pretty clear on this matter as well. Few people would argue that the Bible clearly prohibits taking the life of an innocent person. Verses like Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” Or even more clearly in Proverbs 6:16-19 which states: “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood…”In the Bible, the word used to describe a born and unborn baby is the same word. That’s because the author of those passages, as they were inspired by God, didn’t see any real distinction between the two. Whether they were born or not, the writers understood them to be persons. Just a few verses earlier from our Gospel reading for today we see the word “brephos” used to describe the unborn John the Baptist “For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant[brephos] in my womb leaped for joy.”(Luke 1:44) and a little later in the Gospel of Luke, in verse 2:12 we see this same word used to describe a newborn: “And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant[brephos] wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.” So in the eyes of the Scriptural writers, they believed that the living human being is a baby whether inside or outside the womb.
Since the body, without the spirit, is dead (James 2:26) and we know that the baby is alive by the simple fact that it is growing we must accept the fact that if it is alive then it has a soul/spirit. In fact, the Nicene Creed tells us that “we believe in the Holy Spirit…the giver of life” which means that the baby receives the soul at conception when science tells us that a new human being begins its life. Therefore we find that there is a new living person as soon as conception occurs which means that an abortion truly is the killing of an innocent person.
The right to life is the pinnacle of all our rights because any other right is worthless if one does not have life. To be Catholic then is to be pro-life, not only in belief but in action. So please do not prevent the giver of life from coming to you through artificial contraception. Or even worse, turning your back on the Holy Spirit by having an abortion which may ‘solve’ a problem but creates new ones through physical, psychological and emotional sufferings for the would-be mother. Rachel’s Vineyard is a wonderful organization that helps women deal with most any post-abortion issues. Please contact them at http://www.rachelshope.org for help. No sin is larger than God’s capacity to forgive but please, let us be Catholic when the moment counts.
Prepared by a St-Denis parishioner