by Ken Rolheiser
What child is this - Babies and miracles

Her parents kissed little Bella goodbye and shut off her life support. Moments later she made a miraculous and full recovery. The next day two year old Bella celebrated Christmas Day at home with her family.

Francesca and Lee Moore-Williams had cried as they held Bella’s hand and took one final photograph before her ventilator was switched off. The couple had signed a Do Not Resuscitate form. Doctors had said she had mitochondrial disease, a terminal illness, and would not survive.

But Christmas miracles do happen. Bella’s father said, “I was holding her hand, knowing there was going to be a little last breath. I could feel her hand dropping and it went down but then she started gripping my finger. She started moving on her own and then her machine started going off.”

Doctors believe Bella’s deficiency can now be managed with drugs. (True story from London, England, 2015.)

Miracles do happen, and love often has much to do with it. I remember a niece of mine born so prematurely that the doctors at first made no provision for her survival. At the insistence of her parents, steps were taken and, miracle of miracles, a baby girl was delivered to an incubator, to struggle against all odds to survive.

Saskatchewan neo-natal care was developing almost quickly enough to sustain her life, but at one point my niece was dying. Organ functions were shutting down when the miracle of love happened. A mother’s touch and a soft voice caused life to rekindle, to return and stay until this day, some thirty years later.

But not all life is welcomed into this world with love and tenderness. In December I received this note from Eric Scheider of the Pro-Life League:

Dear Ken,
This past Saturday, while out Christmas carolling at abortion
clinics in my area, I was particularly struck by the carol, "What
Child Is This?" and what it says about abortion.

Of course, that question -- "What child is this?" -- refers to the
Christ child. Who is this infant for whom angels sing, shepherds
leave their flocks, kings leave their homes to pay homage?

But singing that line outside an abortion clinic, I began to ask
that question of the UNBORN children about to be aborted. What
child is THIS? Who might this person have grown up to be?

In “Embracing the holy work of [Christmas] Incarnation” Leah Perrault poetically describes the conception and birth of Jesus: “With the whisper of an angel, God himself became an embryo, humanity and divinity swirled and swallowed in the secret of Mary’s body. All the mysteries of heaven and earth were contained in the beginnings of flesh, in blood and dividing cells, a tenuous promise of eternity and mortality.”

[And finally] “…into labour. Straw and water, sweat and tears, tiny cries and the coming of milk and shepherds and wise men — this is the stuff of Incarnation, of God becoming flesh.”

Psalm 139: 13-14 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.…”

This is the stuff of the conception and birth of every child, wondrous and precious for each and every one of us. God’s breath gives life; the love of parents sustains and nurtures it. We are wonderfully made.

(576 words)