The recent celebration of Father’s Day made me realize once again how important that role is, how ordinary it can appear, yet how extraordinary it really is. It is so important that we keep the second meaning in our consciousness, at least some of the time. Otherwise the gift of life and of parenthood become somewhat trivial, of less importance than, say, progressing in our careers, or saving up to buy a bigger house. Both of those goals are, of course, laudable, but putting children after these items in any list of priorities runs the risk of materialism triumphing over the personal and relational aspects of our nature.
My son and daughter-in -law are rejoicing in their new-found status of expecting a baby. They are excited and thrilled at seeing the baby through ultrasound, and at hearing its rapid heartbeat. As grandmother to this tiny person, I too, marvel at the progress the little one is making. Yes, of course every tiny being appears these days on ultrasound, and of course every little one’s heart beats rapidly, and most of us have had these experiences several times, if not more. Yet they are ever new, and our rejoicing with expectant parents is 100%! Anything less does not honour that little one in the womb, who is already one of us, albeit at the earliest stages.
In the ongoing abortion debate, those are optimistic know that the truth of human life and personhood will ultimately prevail. We really have to deceive ourselves about the truth of human life, and stress the unimportance of the baby’s growth and heartbeat if we decide to dispose of it. Humane people cannot go on doing that forever, while rejoicing at those same developments in other pregnancies. It is not rational, and it does not answer the deep realization within each one of us that new human life has a deep mystery about it, a mystery that we will never fully comprehend, yet we recognize it and want to welcome this child, because we KNOW it is one of us, another of God’s gifts to the world.