I Knew You in the Womb,
Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz (born 1969),
Created in 2016,
© Timothy P. Schmalz, all right reserved
The massacre of the innocents
After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
I called my son out of Egypt.
Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loudly lamenting:
it was Rachel weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted because they were no more.
Reflection on the Public Sculpture
What a contrast in todays reading between Herod’s efforts to kill life and Joseph’s efforts to preserve life!
Herod ordered all the male children under two in the surroundings of Bethlehem to be killed to make sure that baby Jesus would be killed. In our reading we see how God is beautifully at work to preserve life, especially life at its most vulnerable. And yes, we tend to be at our most vulnerable at the very beginning of our lives, in our mother’s womb and as babies, but also at the very end of our lives at old age, when we have to deal with declining health. The gospel reading remarkably taps into our 21st-century Zeitgeist revealing that there are other forces in our world that, like Herod, want to destroy life, especially when it is at its most vulnerable.
Our modern bronze sculpture by Timothy Schmalz is titled I Knew You in the Womb. It depicts an angel hugging and weeping over an empty cradle. The angel is holding a rose in one hand. The sculpture serves as a striking visual pro-life memorial and a beautiful testimony to the value of the unborn. The artists said that 'this sculpture was an artistic celebration of the sanctity of all life'.
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