By BISHOP JOHN N. TRAN | Published December 14, 2023 | En Español
As we continue to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, my thoughts turn to the precious gift of life.
The Lord Jesus came to us as an infant, a vulnerable and valuable human being. The fact that God was made flesh in the form of a child speaks volumes about the dignity of all life. The fact that Jesus grew and developed in the womb of Mary teaches us that the time of waiting, the time of growth, is not for naught. The development of a child in a womb is filled with holy expectation—it is filled with grace, with mystery, with vital meaning.
With that in mind, we see that the new year will present us with new opportunities to stand up for life, from conception to natural death. There will be a 10 a.m. Mass for the Preborn at Holy Spirit Church in Atlanta, the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January and the Georgia March for Life on Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. at the Liberty Plaza.
These events give us the opportunity as Catholics to proclaim the value of life, to make a statement that life in all its forms is a gift from God. In a world where many believe science trumps faith, we stand firm in the scientific proof that life begins in the womb. I encourage everyone to attend at least one of the events.
In fact, with advances in neonatal care, premature babies are surviving with the loving care provided by their doctors and nurses. Just down the road at UAB Hospital in Alabama, a 16-month-old named Curtis Means holds the world’s record for the youngest preemie to survive.
Curtis’ mother, Michelle Butler, went into labor at only 21 weeks and one day gestation on July 5, 2020. In God’s plan, the months he spent in the hospital would have been spent thriving in the womb of his mother. And yet, he arrived early and fought to live. Perhaps his story is evidence to the doubtful that the 21-week-old fetus is already human, already a divinely desired child of God, waiting in joyful hope for that moment that he takes his first breath.
As we once again wait for the celebration of Christ’s birth, may our hearts and minds turn with love to those unborn children, to those mothers and fathers who may be fearful for whatever reason. In these days and weeks, may we offer them the assurance of our prayers and of the message the angel brought to Mary: “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid of the life growing and waiting, of the promise of God’s love. Be open and willing to be the handmaid of the Lord: “May it be done unto me according to your Word.”