So, we all know scripture is pro-life. There are many verses from the Old Testament especially about the life in the womb. And while Jesus never says anything about the child in the womb, Jesus’ life and his very body proclaim the wonder of life in the womb. In particular, the story of Mary visiting Elizabeth is a Pro-Life event par excellence. To recognize and rejoice in life in the womb lead to more joy!
Consider this: Jesus is only a few days old in His Mother’s womb! After Mary says “Yes” to being the mother of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descends upon her, and right then and there, Jesus becomes a Zygote (a single celled human). Then only three days later, when Jesus is a bunch of cells growing into a full-grown body, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth.
Imagine a young woman who is a new mom meeting her best friend, who is also pregnant. One young woman says: “I’m pregnant.” The other says “Me too!!” And then they squeal so loud the dog outside can hear and starts barking.
One could imagine that Mary entered Elizabeth’s house, and Elizabeth sees Mary and may have said something like “Congratulations!” Then something interesting happens. As soon as Mary greets her cousin, Elizabeth tells her that “at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leapt for joy.” We could imagine that that would mean that John kicked, though it’s interpreted as John leaping for joy.
Scripture scholars reflect that this is very similar to David dancing before the Ark of the covenant. And Mary is the new Ark of the covenant. And John is the herald of God—the forerunner of God.
But what is interesting is that this whole scene make sense even from a psychological perspective. If you imagine that scene with a young woman and her best friend, you will notice that they are sharing the joy of their pregnancies. And that joy multiplies by itself. Their joy is contagious. Image if a third pregnant woman enters the room, there would be even more joy. The joy is not like 1+1+1=3. The joy is like 1+1+1=9. Joy has a kind of compounding interest.
So, when Mary visits Elizabeth and their joy increases, the joy even makes its way into Elizabeth’s womb. Catholics also have the interesting tradition that John the Baptist was the only person besides Mary that didn’t need to be baptized because he was baptized with joy and love inside the womb.
We can learn from this story. Very often this month, because it is pro-life month, there will be a lot of videos and images showing the horror of abortion. And there is sometimes perhaps a need to show that. But horror doesn’t lead to joy. Joy leads to joy. When we see life and rejoice in it, we will subconsciously invite others to rejoice in life. So, if a friend of yours is pregnant, get excited with her. If you are pregnant, invite others into the joy. On the one hand, joy is contagious; on the other hand, it is something into which you choose to enter.
As Saint Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
So, rejoice! Then God’s peace will reign, as He dwells with his people.