‘For the whole creation is waiting with eagerness for the children of God to be revealed. …..We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labour pains. And not only that: we too, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free.’ (Roman 8:19-23)
Whenever I read this text from Paul’s letter to the Romans, I think of the Easter Triduum. For me, the entire season of Lent to Easter is like a birthing process. We celebrate the new life at Easter by preparing in the season of Lent much like how the mother goes through a series of biological and psychological change to be ready for childbirth. While I acknowledge that there is a need to reflect on the pain and suffering that Jesus Christ went through in his passion and the love he has for all of us, I do not find it useful to go in search of ways to heighten my senses to experience pain or suffering just so to feel one with the passion of our Lord Jesus. Instead the efforts I made during the entire period of Lent to work on an area to grow in my relationship with God our Father will have its own share of pain and challenges. If I can focus on truly making real change by turning away from my sinful ways to be right in my relationship with God our Father, then Easter is a time of giving birth to a ‘new’ me. This is comparable to how a mother would become conscious of the food she takes and the need to change habits to ensure the body is at its optimum for bringing forth a new life.
Generally, most mothers would willingly go through the sacrifices and pain of childbirth because of love. This is our closest imitation of the immeasurable love of the Trinitarian God. There is a Greek word that describes this loving relationship – perichoresis which points to the interpenetrating in-dwelling love between God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Each has distinct character but yet all three are in perfect communion. This perfect love is what God our Father wants us all to have and Jesus Christ endured the sufferings, pain, humiliation and abandonment in order to bring forth the ‘children of God’ that the whole creation is waiting for with suspended breath. Out of the deep love for all of us, Jesus Christ accepted death on the cross so that we may have the fullness of life. Our pains and sufferings take on meaning and purpose because of that. We know that the pains and sufferings are temporary and we will be able to dwell forever in the blissful love of God our Father. At Easter I can then stop groaning in ‘labour pain’ and sigh with great contentment as I dwell in the loving embrace of God our Father, because a ‘new’ me has emerged.
By Daphne Leong