Friday, March 03, 2017

The Birth Scar

The Scar


Whenever I ask my 18-month-old about his belly he proudly lifts his shirt and inserts a finger into his belly button. Recently, when he did this, I was taken back to the time of his delivery. In my mind's eye I could plainly see my newborn son squirming and filling his lungs with air for the first time. I also remember having the opportunity to cut the cord that had connected him and his mother for so long. That separation of mother and child has left a scar to remind my son of the sufferings his mother endured.

When meditating on the crucifix I am inclined to focus on the more obvious wounds of our Lord’s body. For instance, I only focus on the wounds in the hands and feet or the pierced side of the Savior. There is a wound, or a scar, rather, that has caught my attention recently but is often overlooked in meditations.

The navel or bellybutton of our Lord can speak volumes to us. Christ’s bellybutton first of all signifies His humanity. Many paintings of the Child Jesus are nude to show that He was fully human. But I think His bellybutton proves His humanity far better. The fact that Jesus had a bellybutton means that Jesus was born of a woman. It is a scar, a birthmark, which all men have. It is a constant reminder that someone loved me very much and made a tremendous sacrifice for me.


The Love of a Woman


Besides the love God has for man, there is no stronger bond of love than that between a mother and her child. Jesus and Mary are intimately linked. Mary could truly say, "This is my body, this is my blood." Mary carried Jesus in her womb for nine months. Mary felt Jesus’ first kicks. God became flesh and received all His nourishment through this very birth scar. Jesus humbled Himself to be born of a woman and Mary nursed God at her breast. Mary held God’s hands during His first steps and the Creator was held in the arms of His creation. Mary called God in for dinner and taught Him to live among His people.

Jesus could have just wandered onto the scene and begun His work. He could have just as easily walked out of the desert and into the synagogue and begun teaching, but He saw fit that He should experience human life. In meditating on this birth scar of Christ I can draw many conclusions. The foremost of these is that God chose to live a fully human life. By becoming man and being born of a woman, Christ has sanctified all human life. The birth scar is proof of His intimate connection with human nature and that He was fully human.

I cannot look at Mary without thinking of Jesus nor can I look at His birth scar without thinking of Mary. Mary is truly the gate of Heaven. She is the link between Heaven and Earth. By her saying "yes" to God we are now able to become not only sons and daughters of the Father, but also sons and daughters of Mary for we are the "rest of her offspring" against whom the devil is waging war (Rv 12:17).


Healing Wounds


Today, as we celebrate the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us remember that Jesus lived first within the womb of this holy woman.  Surely as she visited with her cousin Elizabeth, they spoke of the lives contained within them - Jesus and John the Baptist.

As we pause today to meditate and reflect on the mystery of the Visitation, let us remember the labor of the Blessed Mother and what she may have experienced as she stood at the foot of her son's cross and stared at the scar that once connected them so intimately. Surely, her womb ached. Surely, she was reminded of that joyful night in Bethlehem so long ago when He squirmed and took His first breath. Or perhaps she was reminded of a time when He too lifted His shirt and placed a finger in that beautiful scar.

It is said that the only things in Heaven that are man-made are the scars on the body of our Lord. I say there is one other scar in Heaven that is more beautiful than all the other scars. The scars in His hands and feet were caused by the hate of men, but the scar in the middle of His belly was caused by the love of the Woman and by it too, we were healed.


This meditation is taken from You Shall Look Upon Him Whom You Have Pierced: Meditations on the Crucifix available here.

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