Thursday, February 16, 2012

Children as Signs of Contradiction

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

“Lord, what good will your gifts be if I keep on being childless?” so Abram asked God who has showered his faithful servant with many good things. Blessed by God with land, livestock, and many other properties, Abram should have been satisfied with what he had. However, his sterility bothered him. All his properties did not compensate for that longing which remained unsatisfied: he longed for a child, an offspring to whom he shall bequeath his properties, an offspring for whom he shall dedicate his efforts. Such is the generous disposition of Abram. He was truly a man of God because he is like God whose desire to give himself is an expression of his love.

So unlike him is the attitude which characterizes the world we live in. So deep are the roots of materialism in us that we no longer ask what Abram asked the Lord: What good will your gifts be if I keep on being childless? In fact, isn’t this what many modern people want to achieve: to remain childless so as to be free of burdens and responsibilities and also to continue enjoying for the self the fruits of one’s own labors? Ah! The joy of having no children! The less mouths I have to feed, the more I have to enjoy for myself!

When the old Prophet Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms, he declared this child to be a sign that will be contradicted. Early in his life, the Cross begins to cast its shadow upon Jesus. He will be a sign that will be contradicted because the world will hate him for what he will say and for who he is. What he will say will directly oppose what the world teaches. Who he is will threaten the dark forces that control the world: “Have you come to destroy us? We know who you are: the Holy One of God!”

However, when we consider the hostility of the world today towards children, the words “sign of contradiction” begin to take on a new light. In becoming a little child, the Lord Jesus stands in solidarity with all children who, unfortunately are also signs that are contradicted. And the opposition to having children is so subtle because it takes the guise of informed choices, reproductive health, and planned parenthood. And the forces behind this opposition are so great if only we consider how much money is poured behind planned parenthood and the RH bill. So great are these forces that clearly we are up against more than just human beings but against principalities and powers in high places.

Against these principalities and powers that have connived against the child, the Christian family has only one weapon: faith in the Cross. “By faith, (Abraham) received the power to regenerate,” so said St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, “…So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” This faith of Abraham is complemented by the willingness of Mary to take up the cross: “you yourself, a sword will pierce.” In order to defend the child from the forces that contradict it, Christian families must be willing to take up the crosses that go with raising children. Nobody said that having children will be easy. In fact it is difficult but even so, it has to be done because it is the will of God. God wanted Abraham to have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.” Difficult as this cross may be, Christian families have to carry it with faith – faith in the wisdom and in the providence of God. After all, God does not impose burdens that we cannot bear. His wisdom sees what the world, in its shortsightedness, cannot see. The world cannot see beyond present convenience. The Lord sees the preservation of humankind. The aging European population is proving right the wisdom of God. With an almost zero birth rate, there is no one to replace an aging workforce. There is no one set to sustain the economy. Indeed, what good will the Lord’s gifts to us be if we were to remain childless?

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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