Miraculous Births — By Fr. Rich, O.P.

FrRichWebBirths are miracles. Just the normal, everyday, standard childbirth is a miracle. I’ve experienced two in my life time as my children were born — each unique, but nonetheless miraculous. I have, in the course of my hospital chaplaincy, attended more obviously miraculous births as modern medicine intervened to assist.

The birth that we celebrate this weekend was miraculous on many levels. Zechariah and Elizabeth “had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.” Zechariah experienced a visit from the angel Gabriel, announcing: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” Zechariah, for his disbelief, was struck dumb; his written acclamation of his son’s name, “His name is JOHN,” restored his voice.

The child called John “grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.” In the desert, where he was the “prophet of the Most High,” preparing the way for another individual with a particularly spectacular birth to their credit. Ya’ll remember — Christmas.

Births are miracles. The new life that results is full of promise and grace. Each of us is a unique gift of God’s personal creative intervention.

So we celebrate not only the days of birth, but also the succeeding anniversaries as well. We celebrate the miraculous event and the achievements that make up our lives as we move down our own personal time line. Each of us possesses a “photo album” of the events that we can recall any time and any place.

Or, so it would be in a perfect world.

Too often in the “real” world, the miracle is obscured by circumstance or dynamics in a relationship or fear, anger, or ignorance. The idea of a miracle gets lost in the medical procedures that are enacted to insure the life of the newborn or their mother. Sometimes seeing the miracle requires finding the presence of God in very difficult circumstances.

And so we are challenged. Since the Fall, humanity has had to struggle to find the presence of God. In our Jewish Testament, God and the angels interact freely with the Chosen People, walking with them and talking and giving instructions clearly and freely. It would be nice if that practice were alive and well today — God interacting with His people. Oh, wait a minute!

God does continue to communicate with His people. We have Scripture; we have our own personal prayer time; we have opportunities to be still and contemplative, opening ourselves up to the presence of God in our lives. We have texts that challenge and invite us to be attentive to the signs of the times. Men and women who have shared their journeys, successes, and failures — saints, pontiffs, philosophers, and theologians; they can help us.

Births are miracles, but they are just the beginning of a journey that is not travelled in isolation. We are always enwrapped in God’s gracious love, supported by His angels.

Happy birthday to each of you! Celebrate the miracle that you are! May you celebrate your accomplishments and move beyond your failures. May God’s grace fill your heart and overflow. May God’s blessings be yours in abundance!