Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
The pregnant season, Part One
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By Fr. Tom Bartolomeo
December 8, 2013

We all have baby pictures some of them our own. And such a mysterious transformation we undergo. Hard to believe I was that young until I see another baby, possibly with a parent leaving church when our minds and imaginations envelope the mystery. Equally enigmatic is Jesus saying, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (Luke 19:14). Then I try to imagine myself among all those children in heaven. Among them I warm up to anyone who smiles, trust everyone, am happy to respond to every child I meet, his or her enthusiasm about whatever delight we share and I want to remain there forever. Unfortunately, all children in this world grow up and eventually learn to be cautious and fearful. Beware! Then the memory of our particular childhood recedes, and we carry with us only a few special memories into our adult lives and only occasionally will they reappear in our consciousness perhaps when we see our own baby pictures.

There are less than three weeks before Christmas and the birth of Christ. Jesus' mother is in her third trimester en route with Jesus' stepfather to Joseph's ancestral birthplace, Bethlehem, the town where Jesus' forefathers and King David were born whose earthly kingdom encompassed all the country between the Nile and the Tigrés rivers, nearly all of the countries of the mid East today. Jesus came from the stock of Jesse, from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest the last son of the families of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in order that Jesus could be called by his countrymen, "Jesus, Son of David." Jesus, the Son of God, could have chosen a variety of ways to redeem us but chose to clothe himself in humanity. Most if not all the people of Israel anticipated their savior would come in force as a "mighty warrior" spoken of by the father of John Baptist. (Luke 1:68). The divinity of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, had not yet been revealed to them. How would anyone know without God first revealing himself to them and their believing him although all the signs were there in the forty six books of the Old Covenant God had made with our forebears and the prophets.

Humorous how they or we can overlook the obvious. A child does not overlook the obvious: father, mother and child. It is as natural to the child as is play – at house and with dolls. Do not provide children these props and they will invent them and talk about a baby and its mommy and daddy distinct from himself while he or she is still a small child. The Son of God in the womb of Mary was also not oblivious of his journey with his mother and stepfather to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the Roman authorities or his or their need to flee to Egypt and escape being murdered by King Herod, a megalomaniac who feared that a child born then would someday usurp his throne. Only God knows the fate of any newborn. Jesus' Father and his Son planned his Son's fate, however, and their master plan that Jesus die on a cross and rise from the dead for our sake.

There is no human enterprise which compares to our own conception and birth and no enterprise which men and a women contribute more to life than conceiving and giving birth to children as they once were. Much of that today has degenerated into fear of life and fear of children, that we have the "freedom of choice" to decide who lives and who dies as King Herod, Pontius Pilate, the President of the United States and the Supreme Court of the United States have decided. Our laws today sanction the death of innocents legitimizing abortion and contraception. Not only does the aborted child or the child barred from conception die but the men and women involved in the act die to themselves. Today public law, the Affordable Health Care Act, sanctions this – disguising death as "health care services" while we stand by in silence. We should know that our silence before the Lord of heaven and earth will convict us.

The time of ignorance has passed, and the lies have been uncovered. The anti- Christian and anti-Catholic forces in our country rule the media and politics which Blessed Pope John II spoke of as the "culture of death." Many Catholics support the culture of death, unwittingly perhaps, approve of Planned Parenthood, abortion on demand and contraception. We can not, however, ignore that our birth rate is unsustainable, the lowest in our history. We do not need a "one child policy" as China. We may achieve the goal without government policy. Other countries have achieved the goal already such as Russia and Japan whose birth rates are less than one child per couple. We also need to save the children we have that they become Christ bearers as adults as good fathers and mothers. God does not look kindly on parents who will not have or care for his children. We need to make our families whole conserving our energy and time for our children – not our employment, our separated lives and our personal comforts. Let the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph guide us. It was so important that Jesus spent his entire children with his parents learning a carpenter's trade from his step father and working with Joseph until the time of his ministry was decided.

Jesus then taught us in parables from his own experiences. How else did he learn the parables? Perhaps the easiest parable to understand but the most difficult to practice is the parable of little children, "Unless you become as little children you can not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3). Jesus learned his humanity as a child. It has been famously said that "the child is father to the man," and I would add, that the child is mother to the woman. The parables contain the wisdom of God, how we are to grow into children of God, schooling that God has extended over several years from infancy to preadolescence, and the renewal of those lessons for adults in caring for our own children. In the gospels children were the only ones to whom Christ unreservedly revealed himself, "caressing them with his arms," we are told. (Matthew 19:13). When parents personally involve themselves both in time and effort in their children's personal growth they become both teachers and students like Christ himself. Sports, school, group activities and entertainment can not satisfy this personal growth and may only mask over ours and our children's personal deficiencies. Jesus not only offered himself as our model which he learned and practiced at home but revealed who he would have us become. "Learn from me," he said, "for I am meek and humble of heart." (Matthew 11:25). Meek in that we, too, should live happily without envy of anything in this world. Humble in that we should live happily with the gifts God has given each of us. These are the important things parents and children should learn and share together in the spirit of the season of Advent.

Summary

Jesus taught us in parables from his own experiences. How else did he learn the parables? Perhaps the easiest parable to understand but the most difficult to practice is the parable of little children, "Unless you become as little children you can not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:13). It has been famously said that "the child is father to the man," and I would add, that the child is mother to the woman. These are the important things parents and children should learn and share together.

© Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

 

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Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

I am the founder and director of the Families For Families Retreat House, a refuge for anyone who wants to rethink his or her life in a quiet non-demanding environment in an historic house c.1709 when life was less complicated. I am also and primarily a Catholic priest having been a college and university teacher, business-owner and executive among other things. I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English literature from Saint John's University, Jamaica, New York and completed post-graduate studies at Kansas State University. Contact me at FatherTomSays@gmail.com.

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