Encountering Christ’s Love as an Expectant Parent

In the lead-up to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to the U.S., we are launching #FrancisontheFamily, a Diocesan-wide campaign that focuses on the catechesis of #PopeFrancis pertaining to family life. We have chosen to highlight some of Francis’ most repeated challenges to us – encounter, accompany, witness, and welcome – as a way of sharing the joy of family life.

By: Erin Healy

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Have you ever – in a moment of weakness or pain – questioned God’s love for you? I have.

Depending on the circumstance, sometimes it was, “God, how could you still love me?” Or, other times it was, “God, have you forgotten me? Do you really love me?” For whatever reason, I couldn’t always wrap my mind around the idea that God could love me – always – and that His love would never cease. Then, on the screen of my digital pregnancy test, I saw the word “pregnant” appear.

After staring blankly at the test for a few seconds – wondering if this was a dream – a joy unlike any joy I have ever felt before – overtook my entire being. My husband and I instantly fell in love with a child who was no larger than a poppy seed. At that moment – on a very basic, human level – God’s love for me made sense.

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As an expectant parent, the love you have for your child is not based on a set of criteria but simply the fact that they were brought into existence by Our Lord’s generosity. It doesn’t matter how long they are with you in this life; the love is never forgotten. It doesn’t matter if their gestation is “easy” or causes great sickness throughout the pregnancy. There is nothing your child can do to intensify or diminish the love you have for them. This is the encounter of love the Father has with each of us.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter if you have received a Ph.D. or GED. It doesn’t matter if you have been alive for 40 years or four minutes. And – this is the hardest one to understand – it doesn’t matter if you are Blessed Mother Teresa, Taylor Swift or a beggar on the street corner – you are precious in the Father’s eyes. Not more precious or less precious – just precious – like a child in the womb in the eyes of his parents.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we can’t freely choose to damage or lessen our relationship with Christ by our thoughts, actions and words. We can and we do. (Hint, hint: that’s what confession is for.) It just means that God’s love and mercy is stronger than our sin – any sin.

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In his February Angelus Pope Francis writes:

“The love between a parent and a child mirrors the love God has for each of His children:

A child is loved because he is one’s child: not because he is beautiful, or because he is like this or like that; no, because he is a child!

…So often I find mothers in the square who are expecting a baby and ask me for a blessing … these babies are loved before coming into the world. And this is free, this is love; they are loved before being born, like the love of God who always loves us first. They are loved before having done anything to deserve it, before knowing how to talk or think, even before coming into the world!

…In the soul of every child, inasmuch as it is vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is at the basis of his/her personal dignity, a dignity which nothing and no one can ever destroy.”

So, as we begin a new week and a new academic year, let us never forget how truly loved we are in the eyes of our Father, no matter who we become on this earth. And, as we encounter one another in our homes, workplaces and beyond may we remember that they, too, are children of God, precious in His sight.

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