A Woman in Labor, Hath Sorrow


There were a few things that really stuck out to me today at mass. The first was the introit. This was Psalm 65:1-3

Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to his name; give glory to his praise. allelúja, allelúja, allelúja. Say unto God, How terrible are thy works, O Lord! In the multitude of thy strength thy enemies shall lie to thee.

I just love how we are still celebrating Easter and that we will continue to celebrate Eastertide until the Saturday after Pentecost.

The other thing that really struck me today was the end of the Gospel reading. John 16:16-22

Amen, amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labour, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. So also you now indeed have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.

Wow, having had five children I can tell you our Lord knows what he is talking about. Every time it comes down to the time to give birth, I just think ” What did I get myself into? There is no getting out of this. I am going to have to experience tremendous pain and anguish and I don’t know if I can handle it”. Then the baby comes and you forget ALL about it. So much so, that you willingly submit to it again and again. Even as I write this and bring up these memories, I still would willingly submit to this again. It’s not until you are giant and have a giant baby in you with only one way out that you start to panic, you know your “hour has come”.

Another aspect to meditate on with this Gospel reading, is natural birth. This is obviously what women did back in Jesus’ time up until just a few short decades ago. From the beginning of time until this past century women birthed naturally. Our Lord could not have made this analogy had epidurals been around. A woman who knows she is not going to experience any pain has little to no apprehension, sorrow or panic. She does not feel as if “her hour has come”.

Logically thinking it would seem plausible that she would also not experience as much joy either. Actually, scientifically speaking the epidural mother doesn’t experience as much joy as a woman who has just birthed naturally. The woman who birthed naturally produced all sorts of chemicals, endorphins, oxytocin. These chemicals contribute to the overall euphoric feeling a woman has after giving birth naturally. God knew what He was doing. The baby also gets these chemical from the mother during a natural birth. The endorphins that are passed to the baby from the mother during a natural birth actually help the baby to feel less pain. The oxytocin allows the mother and baby to intimately bond on a level that usually is not possible without it. We can see how natural birth, designed by our Creator allows us to experience something similar to, as our Lord so beautifully correlated, the joy His apostles experienced when they saw Him again in heaven.

Can you just imagine Jesus telling the apostle instead:

“Hey, it’s going to suck. You are going to miss me terribly. You will cry and be so sad, but no worries, I’m leaving you with this drug to take to dull ALL of that. You won’t feel a thing. You may not even remember these times we’ve had together, but hey, I don’t want you to suffer one bit. It won’t do anyone any good for you to feel pain, even if it is just emotional. We will meet again and it will be OK. Not nearly as great as if you just went through a time of sorrow missing me, but still good.”

Somehow, I don’t think it would have the same effect.