In celebration of the Fetus Jesus

by Kevin Birnbaum

Theotokos_of_the_Sign13th-century Russian icon of the Theotokos of the Sign

I love the Incarnation. Throughout the history of Christianity, many of the great heresies have rebelled against this central doctrine of the faith—that in Jesus Christ, Almighty God truly became a human being. Some people just couldn’t swallow or stomach the idea that God, utterly transcendent and perfect in himself, would condescend to take on the lowliness of human flesh. It is, admittedly, an almost unbelievable proposition. But I love it. I love everything about it.

I love the fact that, for nine months, the Son of God grew in the Virgin Mary’s womb. I love that a teenage girl housed God in her body, and that God drew nourishment from her. I love that the eternal God entered into history as a zygote, that the omnipotent Creator of the universe was a human fetus. I love that, about 2,018 years ago, give or take, the Virgin Mary was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with God. How wonderful is that?

In the Incarnation, God became man in Jesus Christ. The icon above bears eloquent witness to the startling fact that Mary truly bore God in her womb. But I think it’s even more startling to remember, amid all the idealized imagery surrounding the Nativity, that the God she bore in her womb looked pretty much like this: