Friday, March 25, 2011

Jaki on the Annunciation and the Defence of Life

Today, upon Mary's assent, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity was incarnate as a single-cell male human being - Jesus Christ, True God and True Man - and the angels adored Him dwelling among us in that virginal tabernacle.

The Incarnation is, of course, the will of the Most High conveyed by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin and her consent to that will. The very moment she pronounced the words, "Let it be done to me according to thy word," the Incarnation was a fact. At that point she could only believe it, she had no other evidence and was not to have any physical evidence for the next twenty-eight days. Even then it was still a matter of faith on her part as to what was really taking place in her physically. Embryology, genetics, and even gynecology were still almost two thousand years away.

But in her case too, and above all in her case, faith had to have its unexpected rewards. She rushed to Elizabeth, her aged aunt, unbelievably in her sixth month. Rush she did, the Greek text of Luke says so, and did so immediately, again according to the Greek text, the only record to go by. It was not out of curiosity that she did so. She did not rush because on verifying that some unbelievable thing happened to Elizabeth, she herself could believe the even more unbelievable about herself. A woman with Mary's faith was at safe remove of such scheming. She rushed because she wanted to help. And help she did by staying with Elizabeth for three months, the remainder of her pregnancy.

Mary certainly must have been surprised that before she could say a word about herself to Elizabeth, Elizabeth got the word. She got it from inside, from her own womb, as the baby leapt there out of joy and reverence for the arrival of his Lord. A six-month-old fetus bowed in worship to the Lord of all, not yet two-weeks-old, in Mary's womb. What greater witness should one expect from on High in defense of life? Strange as it may seem, this supreme witness on behalf of life has remained curiously unexploited. No encouragement has been given by leading exegetes. Of course, exegetes like anyone else are limited in their perception. They draw out of a text, this is what exegesis is, not necessarily everything that is there. It often takes a shock to have one's eyes opened and such a shock has been available ever since abortion entered a runaway course.

Thus I find little excuse for recent leading exegetes of Luke's Gospel who invariably fail to point out the bearing which Mary's visit to Elizabeth has on the Christian view of unborn babies.

[SLJ "Life's Defence: Natural and Supernatural" in The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays 155-6]

Perhaps one day, once that concrete teaching of the fetus-Jesus has shaped popular consciousness, there may develop a greater consciousness of the Feast of the Visitation. By advancing that Feast from July 2 to May 31, the Church wanted to achieve two objectives. One, a more obvious, was the upgrading of the Feast by turning it into the crowning of the month devoted to Mary. The other objective, less obvious, was the bringing closer in the Liturgical Year the Visitation to the Annunciation. If it were not for the usual closeness of March 25 to the Holy Week, it might not be impracticable to make the Visitation the octave of Annunciation. This would provide another stunning seal of the Church's respect for any and all foetus as a truly human being. But even as it stands, the Feast of the Visitation powerfully translates the principle of legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi and should thereby serve as a strong guidance in an agonizing confrontation. Of course, what happened at the Annunciation is a far greater fact than the visit made in virtue of the fact. But the actual human recognition of that fact came only with the visitation of Christ to John the Baptist, the visit of the Creator become-a-mere-fetus to the greatest of mere human fetuses ever alive in a woman's womb.
[SLJ "Christ, Catholics, and Abortion" in Catholic Essays 73]

Indeed! Perhaps one day the bishops will grasp that they have a tool to deal with this matter in a most effective manner. It is simply to make today's feast day a holy day of Obligation in the same fashion as Christmas. They should also insist that all homilies for this feast provide a thorough exposition of the Incarnation of the Word as Man, including the scientific perspective that true humanity resides in the living single cell as well as all subsequent stages of development.

1 comment:

leon dixon said...

Jaki wrote in other places on the same matter,more convincingly, in my view. I could look it up but what I recall of it is that he was chiding Protestants about their lack of respect for Mary and that their Protestant support for Abortion would fragment over this Bible account.