April 1, 2011
There are few liturgical feasts
that are more directly relevant to the pro-life cause than the Solemnity of
the Annunciation. The Word became Flesh at the Annunciation, when the Virgin
Mary is told that she has been chosen to be the Mother of the Savior and
gives her consent.
Luke’s Gospel (1:26-38) tells us that "the angel
Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin
betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s
name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is
with you… Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold,
you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him
For Christians, the Annunciation should be a rich
source of reflection on the sacred dignity of human life from its very
beginning at conception. Our Lord didn’t descend from Heaven as a
30-year-old adult and begin His ministry. He "became man" like every human
being, as a single cell embryo.
Single Cell Embryo
Our Lord did nothing by chance. Therefore, the
fact that He began His earthly life as an embryo and experienced every
subsequent stage of human life (fetus, infant, child, adolescent and adult)
necessarily gives significant meaning and dignity to each of these stages.
Scripture (Luke 1:41-44) also tells us that after
the Annunciation, Mary went in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. "When
Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb and
Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
"And how does this happen to me, that the mother
of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting
reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy." Hence, it was an
unborn child (John the Baptist) who first recognized Christ’s presence on
In his meditations on the Annunciation, Father
Frank Pavone asks these provocative questions: "Would it long be possible
for believers, who meditate on the unborn child who was God, to fail to see
that unborn children are made in God’s image?
"Would it be likely that those who ponder that our
Almighty Protector was a baby in the womb will fail to see that babies in
the womb deserve protection? Would it happen that Christians, who
acknowledge that their Lord and Brother was an embryo and fetus, will fail
to see that every embryo and fetus is a brother and sister in the Lord?"
"Yet the marvels revealed by the Annunciation do
not stop there," Father Pavone continues. "There is also the mystery of
Mary’s freedom, her ‘Fiat’ – ‘Let it be done to me according to your word’ (Lk.
"This is freedom of choice which serves the truth,
as opposed to ‘pro-choice’ which claims to create its own truth. This
is choice at the service of life, rather than the perverted choice to take
life. This is the moment when Mary gave her body to the One who would bring
life to the world by saying ‘This is My Body,’ forever undoing the sin of
those who justify abortion by saying, ‘This is my body!’
My office has a flier entitled "The Word Became Flesh" that contains
fetal development pictures and Father Pavone’s reflections. Download it at
("printed resources") or contact my office.
You can contact Greg at The Nebraska
Catholic Conference, 215 Centennial Mall South Suite 310, Lincoln, NE 68508;