On Scripture: ‘In the Womb I Knew You’

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you.”

“For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.”

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

As I read these words, and put them together from each of Wednesday’s Scripture passages, I thought of some comments from Archbishop Joseph Naumann, former chairman of pro-life activities for the U.S. Bishops.

Archbishop Naumann was lamenting how, in the pro-abortion media’s hysteria against the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is virtually no mention of the child in the womb. It is as though this human entity does not exist—when in fact, of course, it is precisely the existence of this living child that makes abortion such a seething controversy.

“It’s no surprise,” the archbishop said recently in response to a question from Christine Persichette, anchor for the nightly Currents News program produced by DeSales Media for the Brooklyn Diocese. “It has been that way for 50 years,” with media, politicians, and the abortion lobby framing this as solely a “women’s rights” issue, with complete disregard for the other life involved.

Of course, thanks to modern technology’s development of ultrasound imaging, unborn children today bear powerful witness to their own existence, seeming to cry out, “Here I am! Do not deny me.”

But for people of faith, it is Wednesday’s Scripture readings that cry out.

Through Jeremiah, God proclaims that He has a purpose for every human life from the first moment He wills us into existence: 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you.”

Then Psalm 71 gives voice to the child in utero, affirming that he or she is immersed in God’s infinite love, and surrounded by His divine protection:  

“On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.”

And finally, in the last words of Wednesday’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus instructs us not to turn away from those who give voice to the Word of God, be they His prophets or His beloved  children:

“Whoever has ears,” Jesus tells us, “ought to hear.”

And today, regarding the beautiful reality of God’s precious, pre-born children, whoever has eyes, ought to see.

Please, share YOUR thoughts on these powerful Scripture readings.

Published by Rick Hinshaw

I have spent the last three decades in primarily Catholic communications work: as a reporter, news editor, columnist, and for eight years editor of The Long Island Catholic; several years as co-host and co-producer of The Catholic Forum program on the diocesan Telecare channel; two stints as Director of Communications for the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; and a year as Associate Director for Communications at the New York State Catholic Conference. I also served for three years as Public Information Officer for the late Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon, a staunchly Catholic and active pro-life leader. Over that more than 30-year career, I have gained an ever deeper understanding of and appreciation for the moral and social teachings of our Church. In my various roles I have lent my voice to articulating those teachings and their applicability to the critical issues of our time. That is what I intend to do with this blog. Moreover, at a time when our political and social disagreements seem to have degenerated into constant vitriol, vilification, verbal abuse and intolerance of those who hold differing opinions, I hope that this blog can contribute, in some small way, to a restoration of respectful debate and discussion, where we can defend our beliefs forcefully without demonizing any who disagree with us. As a Catholic commentator, that is what I have always striven to do--remembering that even as we are called to stand firmly in defense of our Church, her teachings, and our right to be heard in the public square, we are also called always to be the face of Christ to the world--most especially to those with whom we disagree.

6 thoughts on “On Scripture: ‘In the Womb I Knew You’

  1. These are indeed beautiful scriptures to meditate upon. However it strikes me that part of the reason so many Catholics have gone AWOL in so many areas is a lack of preaching on morality. A discussion of abortion would naturally have to lead into discussion of premarital sex, and that is something the church fathers appear not to want to touch with a ten foot pole. Many if not most abortions arise out of a situation where there is a single mother ( and probably a single father) . But it would appear this topic is the third rail of preaching. Priests do not go there for fear of alienating parishioners, dropping donations, or complaints to “the Bishop”. I know many parents who are practicing Catholics who not only have children living with an unmarried partner , but they simply shrug and say there is nothing they can do to stop it or that “everybody is doing it these days.” Even if true, it does not make it OK. Some may be alienated when told the truth. Does that mean the truth should not be told? Premarital sex is a sin. In fact our modern society seems to have a cottage industry going in inventing the newest sexually related sin. Trans surgery for children, drag queen story time, on and on. When the conscience is dull to start with, how shocking is it to take the next step to an abortion of convenience?? Not very. Until the church decides to take the risk of telling the truth and is willing to brave the demographic and financial consequences, I dont think there is much hope of improvement in the area of morality.These subjects are intertwined and clergy simply do not want to talk about it. Then too, you have the German Bishops who are so off course with wanting things like Gay marriages, communion for Non-catholics, etc, I see little hope for positive change unless the clergy change their tune. A frank discussion of sin in general at a few Masses might prick a few consciences, and what would be terrible about that?

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that the issues and behaviors you cited are interrelated, and certainly the embrace of unrestricted abortion shows just how far our culture has been willing to go–to the point of killing innocent human beings by the millions–to protect sexual license. There are, in my view, many failings in terms of Catholic catechesis on these matters, some yes, on the part of some priests and bishops, but also, glaringly, in many Catholic homes. We are called in different ways to try to meet these challenges, and I do, and have, in my varied life callings. I hope in these Scripture reflections to simply try to draw strength for the work I feel God continues calling me to, and maybe help others to do so as well. And I also welcome insights from readers that can add to my own understanding of the meaning of Scriptural passages. So again, thanks for sharing yours.

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  2. Those are wonderful, life affirming scripture verses Rick. I’d add The Visitation to them. Thing is, atheists don’t care about scripture. For that matter, “devout Catholics” don’t either.

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    1. Thank you, Walter, yes, of course the Visitation, when John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s, is another unquestionable affirmation of the sacredness of pre-born human life. You are right of course, about those, believers as well as unbelievers, who remain untouched by such Scriptural testimony. And to me, abortion has always been a human rights issue, not a religious question. Science tells me that life begins at conception, and a commitment to justice tells me that life is worthy of the equal protection of our laws. I have always argued the issue on that basis; but certainly, as a Catholic, God’s word through Scripture fortifies my pro-life convictions.

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