Rachel Still Weeps
A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. (Jer 31:15)
Soon after Jesus was born, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem in search of him, making inquiries on the way, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?”
Herod, who was King of Rome at the time, came to hear of this and disturbed, asked his counselors to find out more. They told him that it was prophesied that the long awaited Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Herod called the Magi and told them to let him know where the boy child was so that he could go and worship him too.
The Magi found Jesus, but after paying him homage, returned to their country by a different route, being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. When they had gone, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt because Herod was out to kill him.
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were under two years old. “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” (Mt 2:17-18)
Who is Rachel and why is she weeping?
Rachel was the wife of Old Testament patriarch Jacob. She had pined for children all her life (Gen 30:1) and when she finally conceived, it was only to die giving birth to Benjamin (Ge 35:18, 19). She was buried at Ramah, near Bethlehem.
A few years later, during the deportation of the Jewish people to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar, many of the Israelites were detained at Ramah, and those too old or too weak to make the journey to Babylon were killed. Rachel, a kind of mother figure in the Old Testament, is said to have raised her head from her tomb and lamented the slaughter of the people. Many more years later, she would mourn the slaughter of some more innocents who were killed by King Herod.
She still weeps now, even more bitterly, because innocents continue to be slaughtered in greater numbers than ever before in human history through the abortion of babies in the wombs of their mothers. The numbers are so huge they boggle comprehension and at the time of this writing (4.20 PM on June 18, 2014) the children that have been killed just this year - and we are not even half way through it - is in excess of twenty million! In the time it would have taken you to finish reading this article at least another 1000 would have been killed as they are being put down at the average rate of nearly 1 per second.
We find the number of people who die in wars, terrorist attacks and natural calamities horrifying, yet we don’t seem to be severely affected by the huge number of babies being put to death? Why? Partly because we have been led to believe that what is growing within the mother’s woman is not really human life and partly because we have become so calloused by sin taking life doesn’t seem to be an important thing! And we are taking life, as we shall see.
Let us examine the former statement, first from a scriptural point of view, then a scientific one.
“God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Gen 1:27 Common perception often sees this as our physical bodies being a mirror of God, but God does not have a physical body. “God is Spirit.” (Jn 4:24)
Consequently, “the human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual” and the two cannot be separated from each other." (CCC 362) This begins at conception, although the human being itself, with all God’s plans for it, were formed much before in God’s mind.
This is what the psalmist writes:
“For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed. (Psalm 139)
God told the prophet Jeremiah: “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5)
Later on, he told the exiles through the prophet: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." (Jer 29:11)
God has a plan for every single person he has created, but we thwart these plans when we decide to play God and terminate life—human life. Which brings us to the second point.
One of the main arguments put forward by proponents of abortion is that an unborn child is not really a human being. Is this true? Consider this scientifically acknowledged fact: Life begins at conception, when the father’s sperm cell unites with the mother’s ovum or egg cell to form one cell, a fertilized ovum. A baby is genetically complete at conception. Does this not constitute life?
The box alongside (The First Twelve Weeks) show the progress of the baby over three months. By its twelfth week, the baby has all its organs, muscles, limbs and bones fully formed; it just has to grow and mature. If you were to see a twelve month old foetus you wouldn’t fail to recognize it as a baby! The picture shows is that of a twelve month foetus.
This baby feels pain, just as we do. When aborted by hysterotomy (i.e. a caesarean section) he kicks, tries to breathe and may even cry. If he is pulled out by forceps he probably won’t die until the surgeon tears off his head or pierces his abdomen. When he is sucked out by machine his end will be swifter. But it will still feel pain. A lot of it.
Turn Back to God
If you have committed an abortion, or abetted one, perhaps as a medical practitioner, or advised somebody to have an abortion, the purpose of this article is not to make you feel guilty or to condemn you, but to make you aware of the gravity of your sin so that you turn back to God in repentance, knowing that he is a merciful and forgiving God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:16-17)
It is also to help you mitigate the consequences of abortion. Taking human life—even that of the unborn—is not a minor infringement but a grave sin with severe consequences that affect not just the person involved, but even generations following. Consider these words from Exodus related to the baby in the womb to see how seriously God holds unborn life: “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life.” (Ex 21:22-23)
There are medically proven physical and psychological effects on the mother. Among other effects physical consequences are seen in sterility, miscarriages, ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancies, still births, menstrual disturbances, damaged cervical muscles, perforation of the uterus, infection, hemorrhage, blood clots, peritonitis. Some psychological effects are guilt, suicidal impulses, sense of loss lowered self-esteem, preoccupation with death, hostility, self-destructive behavior desire to remember death date, desire to end relationship with partner, nightmares, loss of interest in sex. However, these can be mitigated by a heartfelt confession followed by offering a mass for the soul of the child, and a good inner healing. Giving the child a name signals acknowledge of the fact that this was a human being whose life was taken. We have observed through sessions with hundreds of women who have committed abortions that healing and blessings follow these acts of reconciliation almost instantly.
And, thirdly, it is to encourage people (read: you) to take responsibility. When the number of infants being put to death daily are so huge as to be mind boggling, none of us can say this doesn’t involve us: it does and we have to take steps to prevent it from happening otherwise we, too, will be held accountable before God who urges through his prophet. “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.” (Is 58:1)
Steps towards stopping the slaughter
When one looks at the number of unborn killed and wonders why nobody seems concerned, one has to ask the question: how have we become so callous? It is because we have becoming inured to sin by committing it so often. Did you know that if you put a frog in a pan of cold water and light a fire underneath it, the frog will slowly boil to death because its body adapts to the change in temperature without realizing that it was becoming life threatening? We have become like that, slowly boiling to death. How do we stop? By getting out of the pan and turning off the fire! This involves returning to the fundamentals concerning sexuality and the human body.
Sex, like the human body, is a wonderful creation of God, but its primary purpose is procreation, not self-gratification. The instant we take creation out of the equation and indulge in sex for its own sake, we start to play God with life, first by practicing contraception to prevent the birth of a child, then by abortion if the methods of contraception fail to work. In this day and age it would require tremendous courage to allow God to decide when and how many children we should have, but the alternative is the slaughter we see.
Education is another step. Making people understand the facts that we have highlighted in this article, especially the basic fact that the unborn child IS human life, is vital to stopping the carnage. Most women who commit abortions are led to believe that aborting a child is like taking out tonsils; a minor procedure that is harmless. It isn’t and once people are made aware that it is “real” life they are terminating, they instantly change their attitude towards abortion. (Two videos taken from YouTube are included in the video that accompanies this article; merely seeing these videos have convinced a lot of people that this is truly life in the womb).
Being non-judgemental and non-condemning of unwed mothers is another. Many women who get pregnant are young singles, and despite social acceptance of free sex (of which pregnancies are a natural consequence), being an unmarried mother is still a taboo in many cultures. We need to be more accepting of these women, recognizing that one sin need not be compounded by another, even greater sin in which we become complicit by intolerance.
Can we really make a difference?
I heard the story once told of a man walking down by the seashore where a freak tide had swept thousands of starfish on the beach, doomed to die. The man began picking them up as fast as he could, tossing them back into the sea. A woman strolling by watched him for a while in bemusement before she said, “Do you really think what you are going is going to make any difference?” The man paused in the middle of throwing yet another starfish into the sea. “To this one it does,” he said quietly before hurling it back. The woman continued to watch him for a while, then bending down she picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea. Soon, they were joined by hundreds of others and not long after, all the starfish had been saved.
I gave a talk on the subject two weeks ago. In the time since then several women have confessed aborting children, while promising they would never do so again. One of them said she would adopt a child. Two doctors admitted to encouraging women to perform abortions, even assisting in the surgery. They both promised that not only would they stop this practice, they would now advise woman against doing so. Hundreds of others have offered their support in this war against abortion as this ministry has decided to open a center for unwanted children. While Rachel still weeps, there is now hope in her heart.
Aneel Aranha is the founder of Holy Spirit Interactive (HSI), recognized as an Association of Faith and Outreach. A renowned international preacher and retreat leader, Aneel has spoken to thousands of people in hundreds of parishes around the world. He is the author of several books, including the inspirational School of the Holy Spirit, The Armor of God, The Seven Deadly Sins and A Guide to Personal Prayer. He has written scores of articles and reflections, many of which can be found on the HSI website.
Series: On the Second Wave
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