Unborn Jesus Our Hope
COMMENTARYFather James M. Kubicki, S.J.
National Director, Apostleship of Prayer
When George Peate asked me to read his manuscript, I was intrigued. Part of my mission as national director of the Apostleship of Prayer is to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Most people think that this devotion began with the revelations to St. Margaret Mary in the 1600’s, but when I talk about the history of this devotion I always go back further in time, sixteen centuries earlier. Devotion to the Heart of Jesus began with His Mother Mary.
Jesus took flesh and began His earthly existence, as we all do, in the womb of a mother. About three weeks after His conception, Jesus’ tiny heart took shape and began to beat and to send a life force of Precious Blood throughout His developing body. His mother Mary was the first to be aware of this new heart beating within her own body, so close to her Immaculate Heart. While these two hearts would have beat at different physical rates, they beat in the same spiritual rhythm. St. Augustine says that Mary conceived first in her heart what she would later conceive in her womb-the Word of God. Thus, because of this spiritual union, it can truly be said that Mary was the first to practice devotion to the Heart of Jesus. Their two hearts beat as one in their love for the Father and His will for them, and in their love for suffering humanity. With hearts united, they gave their bodies and their lives for the salvation of the world.
George Peate’s book, Unborn Jesus Our Hope, is an insightful reflection on this spiritual union of hearts during the time that they were so physically close to each other.
Christians believe that by becoming a human being, by taking on flesh and uniting Himself to human nature, the Son of God united Himself to every human being no matter what their age. It is common to honor Jesus at the various stages of His life. Jesus is pictured and honored as the Child Jesus, the Baby Jesus in a manger, the Infant of Prague, and the Boy Savior. He shared the life of a manual laborer and is traditionally portrayed as a carpenter. He is our Savior King and Good Shepherd.
But what about honoring and praying to Jesus as He was before He became an infant? What about honoring Jesus in the very first stages of His earthly life-as an unborn baby developing in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s womb? We can do this because Jesus shared our existence from conception to death; He sanctified every moment of human existence, including nine months in the womb.
These nine months are the focus of George Peate’s reflection. His work is, in his words, a “spiritual ‘ultrasound’ movie” of Jesus’ first nine months. In imagining what these nine months were like for Jesus, and for Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah and their unborn son John, Peate follows in the tradition of Ignatian contemplation as described in “The Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius Loyola. Using the Gospel narratives as a starting point, he fills in the blanks of the Annunciation, the Visitation, Joseph’s acceptance of Mary as his wife and their journey to Bethlehem. Throughout, Peate supports his creative reflections with passages from Scriptures, Patristic and theological writings, and devotional works by Catholics and other Christians.
This is an important work. Why? Recently a number of countries have declared March 25, the day on which we celebrate the Annunciation as the “Day of the Unborn.” It is a day to remember when Jesus’ human life began. It is a day to be reminded that all human life begins at conception. On this day we have to ask, “What would have happened had Jesus not been received, had He been rejected and His earthly existence terminated at this early stage?”
Jesus, by becoming an unborn human person, united Himself to every unborn person. When the unborn are rejected, caused to suffer, and killed, Jesus too is rejected, suffers, and is killed. “Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters you did for me.”
Devotion to Unborn Jesus is a call to honor Jesus in all the unborn people of our world. It is a way that we can grow in an appreciation of the gift of life in its initial stages. And it’s a powerful way that we can pray for the unborn. May this book become a means for this devotion to grow and for lives to be saved!
This is a very creative and profound reflection on the first days, weeks and months of Jesus earthly existence. Peate invites us to use our imaginative powers in a prayerful way to see Jesus in the womb of His Virgin Mother. We also meet those people who encountered Jesus while He was still in the womb: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist. We see how they related to the Unborn Jesus and we learn from them how we ought to relate both to Jesus and to all unborn children. As he ends his book Peate asks “Where was Jesus’ home?” He answers: “The womb of His mother had been a true home for Him, but it was a temporary home, a sign of a truer home still.” That “truer home” was Mary’s Immaculate Heart where she always welcomed Him. That home can be our hearts as well. May we welcome Him as Mary did! May we welcome Him in all the unborn people of our world, the most vulnerable and least of our brothers and sisters. In welcoming them we welcome Unborn Jesus who, at the end of the world, will in turn welcome us into our true home.
I am happy to recommend George Peate’s book “Unborn Jesus Our Hope.” It makes a beautiful Advent meditation. Because I was able to use this book to spend time with Jesus in His mother Mary’s womb, this year’s Christmas was unlike any other for me. I thank God for the depth of reflection and hard work that went into this book.
Father James M. Kubicki, S.J.
National Director, Apostleship of Prayer