Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
(Judges 13:2-7.24-25a; Luke 1:5-25)
We feel for couples who want to have children but remain barren. Often they seem to be the best of people – she, gentle and caring, and he, responsible and understanding. Raising offspring like themselves would not only fulfill their dreams but would likely provide good neighbors for a nobler society. Why then does the Church condemn the use of in vitro fertilization as a way of helping barren couples to conceive? Before trying to answer this question, it will be helpful to examine today’s readings. They relate how the Lord responds to two barren couples who have desired children for years.
In both readings God grants the barren couples a son to further His special purpose. Manoah and his wife will give birth to Samson who will defeat the enemies of God’s chosen people. Zechariah and Elizabeth will give birth to John who will announce that the coming of God’s Son, the savior.
God’s providence has a similar plan for each of us and for every couple. The coming days of Christmas are a ripe time to discern that plan. Providence also wants every human person to know that she or he is not a laboratory product but a creation by God through the natural love of parents. Compassion, by definition, means to suffer with others. Showing compassion to barren couples, we recognize their sense of loss with assurance of their goodness. We also support their efforts to turn their barrenness into opportunities as God has planned.