Continuing The Spiritual Journey
By: E. Jane Rutter
At the dinner table recently, Laura was discussing the fact that living cells between a mother and fetus exchange through the placenta during pregnancy. Their cells live on in one another, solidifying the inherent, ongoing connection between mother and child.1 This biological process, known as microchimerism, is multigenerational, each of us having cells from our mothers, as well as “…cells from their older siblings.”2
Even more astounding, scientists have found the living cells of children in mothers aid in healing illness and that “the cells of the first child not only help the mother but also help protect their younger siblings.”3 Herein lies the uncontestable truth of family primacy!
As King David exclaimed to God, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your very works. My very self you know” (Psalm 139:13-14).
During the Eucharistic prayer at Mass on Sunday, it occurred to me that if God created the process by which cells transferring during pregnancy live on after birth, is it plausible that the sacred Body and Blood of Christ a mother consumes flows into the shared cells of her children at the time of her consumption? Could this be another miracle of the Eucharist?
Consider Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman. She pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter from the demon that plagued her (Matt 5:22). Though her daughter was not present, because of the mother’s faith, Jesus healed her in that moment. We know nothing of the daughter’s faith, only her mother’s.
Jesus is as physically present to us in the Eucharist as He was to the Canaanite woman. What if the same is true of our cells living in our child(ren)’s? Jesus, present in the Eucharist, partaken by mothers, healing our children.
After all, the bond between mother and child is unbreakable; passed down through every generation. Knit to one another through life and death, through time eternal, we begin to understand Christ’s promise to be with us always. “We are,” as Bishop Robert Barron notes, “much more than followers of Jesus; we are grafted onto him as branches are grafted onto a vine.”4
Microchimerism also helps us understand being grafted to our blessed Mother Mary as well, whose cells He carries. She “provide the profoundly pure flesh and blood by which the Savior would eventually – and throughout the ages – feed us and heal us with the super-substantial ‘daily bread’ of the Eucharist.”5 Their cells live on one in another!
As Jesus tells us “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
The Vine to whom we are grafted is our life-giving sustenance. Jesus Christ grants us the free will to accept His presence within us, be healed and live fruitful lives or to deny Him and wither. Our “yes” Lord; our ownership of the Centurion’s assertion, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” brings us into loving unity as His own (Matt 8:8).
And so I pray:
Dear Lord, You have marvelously designed us to be one in each other and in You. May Your Body and Blood that we humbly partake of miraculously prune the hearts of our children to receive Your spiritual and physical healing.
1.Shrivastava, Sandhya; Naik, Rupali; Suryawanshi, Hema; Gupta, Neha “Microchimerism: A new concept,” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, 2019.
2.Millea, Dr. Timothy, “The Eternal Mother-Child Connection,” The Catholic Messenger, Jan 31, 2019.
4.Barron, Most Rev. Robert, This is My Body: A Call to Eucharistic Revival (Illinois: Word on Fire, 2023), 75.
5.Scalia, Elizabeth, “To Jesus Through Mary? Why Yes, and T’was Ever Thus!” Word on Fire, Dec 5, 2019.