There’s a line from Scripture last Sunday that jumped off the page and into my heart. I even underlined the words in my Mass journal as the reader proclaimed them. My son Jude leaned over and quietly asked, “Why did you underline that, Mom?” “I’ll tell you later,” I whispered back. I never got around to telling him why I underlined those words. Honestly I didn’t have an answer. Why did those words speak to me so, to the point where I’m still thinking about them several days later? The words are from the prophet Isaiah 62:1.
“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.”
There’s been a lot in the news this week that has disturbed my spirit. Specifically, I was physically sick to my stomach hearing news the State of New York passed a bill allowing abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Frankly speaking, this means the state of New York just approved the right for medical professionals to give lethal injections to fully formed infants in the womb. I don’t want to get into a political debate here, so please know what I’m about to say isn’t at all political. What I’m going to share comes straight from Scripture, God’s love letter to us.
Let’s head to the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, the Announcement of the Birth of John the Baptist, where we journey with Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. Zechariah was a priest, and the couple was holy and righteous in the eyes of God. But they had no children — Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. At that time in history, barrenness could have brought on shame, almost as if they were cursed for having sinned against God’s commandments. While Zechariah was praying in the temple, the angel Gabriel visits him and firmly says, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah …Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.”
Now here’s what’s really cool about the encounter between the angel Gabriel and Zechariah. The angel then says, “He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.”
The angel Gabriel comes to Zechariah and declares that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. The first person in the New Testament from the Gospel of Luke to receive the Holy Spirit is an unborn child. As with John the Baptist, only by the grace of God is a child given dignity, value, beauty, and worth from the moment of conception. God’s Spirt also gives us the same — the same dignity, value, beauty, worth, and LIFE from our moment of conception when He formed us in our mothers’ wombs.
So what does that mean for us? I propose that just like God chose Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist to bring forth His kingdom, He also chooses us to do the same. The same breath that filled John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb, breathes in us, too. From the life each of us lived in our mothers’ wombs right up until this very moment, He’s asking us to bring forth His kingdom as well. That’s the Great Commission. What a great honor and privilege it is.
In my previous reflection, I shared how Mary’s last will and testament to all the disciples of Jesus, including you and me, is to do whatever Jesus tells us. To that end, Jesus’ very last words in the Gospel of Matthew begin with, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations….”
The Gospel is to be proclaimed and celebrated. It will not always be accepted, but it must be told.
For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet.
*Hat tip to Fr. Dave Pivonka for illuminating the passage from Luke for me!
Copyright 2019 Lisa A. Schmidt
|Lisa Schmidt has a heart for building community. With a Bachelor of Family Services and Master of Public Administration, her career has been devoted to improving the quality of life for others. Currently on hiatus from the professional workforce to care for the needs of her family, Lisa has become steadily immersed in freelance work through writing, speaking, and founding The Well women’s ministry. Along with her husband Deacon Joel and their four children, the Schmidts are parishioners at St. Pius X in Urbandale, Iowa.