I am so grateful for the gift of God’s Word. It has the power to pierce our hearts, blow up our delusions, cut through our blindness, and shatter our stubborn independence. The readings today struck a number of chords with me. The first strike was the reading about Israel’s son, Joseph. Here was the first blow: ‘…they hated him so much that they would not even greet him.’ This sums up my feelings around my two abortions. I was filled with angry dread both times. My relationships with each of the fathers had been on the rocks. I knew neither of them loved me. Neither of them wanted to be “saddled and trapped” with me or my pregnancies when they occurred. I just wanted the nightmare of my pregnancies to go away. I hated those pregnancies and made sure I did not, and would not, greet them.
Then the Gospel. ‘The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you.’ I acted like the landowner who had planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, and leased it to ungrateful tenants. My body was the vineyard and I had leased it to “the tenants” (boyfriends) of my late teens and 20’s. This resulted in three unwanted pregnancies. One spontaneously miscarried, two others aborted. I rejected my body, I rejected the One who built it, and I rejected the fruits of the vineyard as well. I was lost and wretched and undeserving of the Kingdom.
But the Psalm! ‘Remember the marvels the Lord has done.’ Fast forward 5 years. Through a series of “God-instances” I had become Catholic. I was married and expecting my first (ever) wanted child. I started spotting at 7 weeks into the pregnancy. The doctor asked us to come in for a sonogram. I was terrified. What if I lost our precious baby? My husband, very new to the practice of faith and not Catholic, asked if I wanted him to pray with me before the appointment. He held me and I prayed to Jesus to save and heal my child. I felt an amazing warmth come over my entire body and I KNEW, no matter what happened, that God loved me and all would be well. Even if the baby did not survive, all would be well as long as I trusted that God loved me. We got to the sonogram and I was looking for just one thing. I wanted to see that tiny heart beating. I wanted to hear it. I looked and listened. We waited. Finally the technician said, “there it is.” And we saw our baby’s little heart and little body, filled with life. I cried joyous tears as I watched. Just as quickly, there was a sickening twisting in my gut. A deep down, way deep down, red hot shame and pain. For as much as I wanted this baby, I had desperately not wanted my other babies. For the first time in my life, I actually realized what I had done. And the regret, the shame, the guilt, the remorse, the ache, the sadness – dare I say the grief – was almost too much to bear.
But the Verse Before the Gospel! ‘For God so loved the world…’ It’s taken a number of years and a good bit of intentional prayer and healing for me to realize that God is faithful and means what he says. When God tells us, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son; so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life’, He means it. He gave us THE gift, Jesus, who took away all our sins. Not a few, not some, ALL. He took the hideous sins of my abortions and redeemed me from them. Through Christ, I’ve been given the incredible gift to know my lost children as my sweet and beautiful boys. The exchange is too wondrous for words. I did not deserve it. I did not earn it. But God loves me and has healed my broken heart. He has given me the gift of realizing my children and helping others to know how good He truly is. That he loves every one of us. Always. As long as we trust that, all will be well. _Lisa H