May 19, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Life offers us many examples to pivot from one event to the next, the journey from A to B; and though our eyes and minds are geared to what is the goal, or promised point in the near or distant future, we often do not reflect enough on the meaning of what lies “in between” events. Yet these hidden moments are often powerful.
For example, the Church’s liturgical period of 10 days — the period between the Ascension of Our Lord to the infusion of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost — is grounded in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1. It represents a period given to prayer, as Jesus exhorted the Apostles (Acts 1:14). But since they were now 11, with Judas betraying the Lord and committing suicide, one particular “fulfillment” needed to remediate before the “Power from on High” would come upon and give birth to the Church at Pentecost. It was a period of gestation.
Hence the 12th Apostle Matthias was chosen, not by vote but by “lot,” thus rooting their action in a trusting faith. God was to “choose” the new apostle by lot from several nominated. It was His “call.” Beyond that, we are told significantly that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was in their company. They were to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit. That would be explosive and a game changer. Denial turned to attestation, cowardice to rock-solid strength. And soon, gestation to birth: Pentecost.
Under way was a graced change of attitude, from recurring doubt (Mark 16:11,13,15) to joy and anticipation. Before the Resurrection, the followers of Jesus were lost at the meaning of his “coming back from the dead” (Luke 18:34). They needed His reassuring appearances during those 40 days. Now they strengthened their trust that the Advocate promised them would “teach them all things” (John 15:26; 16,12-13). We might suggest that this period of the “in between” wait strengthened faith, and ushered in a hope beyond the mundane fixing of things, like removing Roman oppression (Acts 1:7) or even the “loss” of the Ascended Lord in their lives (Acts 11) Who would return again.
The broadening of their thinking grew beyond this world, and its limitations. Their prayer-inspired hearts gave way to His Way, and little by little readied these “120 disciples” to receive the Power from on High, even as Mary, centered in their midst (Acts 1:14), had long before experienced through her Immaculate Conception. She too, who had never doubted either her sublime “call” to greatness, magnifying the Lord, or her Son’s Resurrection, encouraged the others joyfully. That they were divinely chosen as Apostles, including Matthias, became evident even as that sapling Church recognized the budding community much more than civic or agrarian union.
All this implies growth, from point A to point B. One could reflect on the same in the passages “in between” Bethlehem and Egypt for the Holy Family (Matthew 2:13-15); or the shorter, but greatly developed, heart stirrings between Jerusalem and Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35). And so it is with our lives developing from one important event in our lives to another — especially our first nine months in our mothers’ womb.
In this regard a mother can trace the growth of love and affection she has for her newly conceived baby to the time of her birth, as the first kick of activity in the womb triggers joy and healthy energy. Here the father, too, needs to be family-involved by revering this sacred gestation period, providing the comfort, solace, and loving care for his spouse.
But what a tragedy as that new life formed within the womb gets snuffed out today in the millions across our abortion-promoting land! The magnanimous and joy-filled leaders of the 120 disciples tuned their minds and hearts between Ascension and Pentecost to God’s plan, not their own. So too, a father of each budding child in the womb should support and lead his spouse to acknowledge that the miracle of their unique newly conceived baby is God’s design — which He knew before being “formed in the womb” (Jeremiah 1:5) — now developing “in between” conception and birth. Passages are sacred, rather than scared. With the trust in God’s plan they will not be scarred either.
Let us pray for a change of heart that recaptures the awe of new life, in the Church, in our land, and especially in the protection of the innocent preborn, our most sacred cooperative effort with the Lord of Life.
Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, Ph.D., is the associate director of Priests for Life. A concert pianist, he was formerly an associate professor of music at Villanova University