As a nurse but so much more as a mother, I love the gospel for today. Jesus told his disciples that the pain and sorrow that his disciples experience will become joy just as the pain of childbirth becomes Joy for the mother when the baby is born. The joy of both situations is not just from the relief to have the suffering over but the unbelievable joy in the union with the loved one.
It is my experience that the analogy can be taken even further. There are many times in a pregnancy that a woman may experience anything from discomfort to suffering, but usually more times of excitement and anticipation. Especially after viewing a beating heart on an ultrasound monitor or later as the woman feels the baby’s movement, she is increasingly aware of the baby’s presence. She begins to imagine what this baby will be like and she may sing or talk to the baby and rub her belly in an expression of affection. Her love for that baby is constantly growing. Towards the end of the pregnancy, she becomes impatient and yearns to see and hold the baby in her arms, to caress and comfort and to experience a much deeper union with him. The pain and suffering of labor are definitely real, but the mother’s indescribable joy at the safe delivery of her baby is a joy that brings tears to her eyes. It is a joy that far exceeds any other experience.
Just as a woman’s awareness of the baby grows, our awareness of God’s constant presence with us grows. Throughout our lives, there are times of pain and suffering both physical and psychological, but our confidence in God’s presence makes it easier to bear those times. Our love for him becomes greater and greater, and at times we may yearn for the physical presence that Jesus’ disciples were able to experience. How fortunate we are that his presence becomes more apparent to us in a physical way with the reception of the Eucharist. What will it be like when we come to the end of our lives, when our union with God is complete? Right now we can only try to imagine the eternal joy in store for us at our safe delivery when God wraps his arms around us and smiles with his fatherly love.