Before I Formed You In The Womb I knew You
Sherin Alexander explains the uniqueness of each person from conception and the distinctiveness of each person’s mission.
All human life starts off with one single cell. Conception of a new life happens when a sperm penetrates an egg and a new distinctive life is formed with a new set of DNA. While half of the chromosomes come from the father and half from the mother, the new combination of DNA is utterly unique (except for identical twins since they start off with one fertilized egg and splits into two babies). This new life has never before existed, and this life will never naturally exist again. Here is a unique, irreplaceable creation! The moment of conception is truly a very special moment. It is the very beginning of a new life. A new soul is placed in the womb of the mother; in some cases, multiple souls in the case of twins, triplets, etc.The husband and wife who contributed has no idea this has taken place. The mother’s body starts providing nutrients to support this new baby but she won’t find out about the existence of this person for another 2 more weeks. There is someone else however, who does know what is happening in the dark recesses of the womb. The Lord, who sees everything, who knows everything and has placed this life in this womb knows this person, personally! In fact, God knows this person even before conception!
The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”(Jeremiah 1:5). Truly, the intimacy and primacy of the Lord in our lives is reflected at the moment of conception and the first 2 weeks of our lives. The Lord, not only knew him, but also dedicated and appointed Jeremiah before his birth. In the book of Genesis, the angels mentioned about Isaac to Abraham and Sarah an year before Isaac’s birth despite the reality that Abraham was past age and Sarah had stopped her menstrual periods. In the book of Judges, we read about an angel of God appearing to Zorah’s wife Manoah, “Though you are barren and have had no children, you will conceive and bear a son….No razor shall touch his head, for the boy is to be a nazirite for God from the womb. It is he who will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines” (Judges: 13- 3-5). That child was Samson. Mary, at the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb was conceived free from original sin by the virtue of the foreseen merits of her Son; Church celebrates this yearly on the feast of Immaculate Conception on December 8th. Even though Zechariah and Elizabeth were both advanced in age and Elizabeth was barren, angel informed: “Do not be afraid Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John…For he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord…He will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord” (Luke 1:13 – 17).
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The uniqueness of each person from conception and the distinctiveness of each person’s mission in the bigger reality of the God’s plan for mankind is manifest in these characters. God desires all his children to be with him and he is drawing people to him through his faithful believers. This rightly leads us to the question: what about me? What is my unique irreplaceable contribution? We are each placed in specific situations and states of life and only we can fulfill the call assigned to us. Perhaps, the callings in the modern world are not of the same nature as the people of Old Testament. So, we look to the Church to guide us: “Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrates the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 901).
Lord, I pray for grace, faithfulness and perseverance to seek and live out the unique, irreplaceable mission entrusted specifically to me.