From today’s Gospel: When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.
Do you ever wonder how Jesus came up with his material? The image he chose in this passage from his farewell address to describe sacrificial love has always made me ask that question. I imagine that as a boy, Jesus had heard the cries of women in labor. It must have been frightening and mysterious, waiting and wondering outside with the men. I think he would have had so many questions: What was happening in there? Was there danger? Might she die? Some women probably did. And babies, too.
But Jesus must have been so surprised when he was finally allowed to see mother and baby after the birth. Where was the woman who had cried out in agony with the pains of labor? All was forgotten in the celebration of new life. He saw joy and a kind of love that penetrated to his core. This love sacrificed. This love endured. This love went to the brink of death for the sake of life. This filled Jesus with wonder and awe!
This was the image that sustained him as he said his good-byes to his friends. “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) Like a woman in labor, his hour had come. The birth pains were upon him. He trusted that God the Mother, God the Midwife of All Creation, would bring him from death to new life.