Labor of Love

Traditional orthodox icon of Mother Mary
The Icon a Mother of God (Mary) and child (Jesus Christ)

When I was in labor with my first child, it was very difficult.  I had to be induced and the pangs were very strong and close together as if I was in the last stages, but I was only 1 centimeter dilated. I had a picture of the Blessed Mother that had been in my husband’s room as a child. I focused on her beautiful face and the common experience of women since the beginning of time. I felt that universality again as I nursed my child for the first time.

I felt very angry inside when I heard that Church teaches that Mary didn’t have any labor pains. I felt cheated of my mother.  We didn’t have that common bond.  They said that since she was conceived without sin, and labor was a punishment for sin, therefore she didn’t have it.

Inside I argued, but Jesus was without sin and He suffered under the curse.  Does not the Church teach about redemptive nature of the innocent suffering?  I knew it was nothing that she would shrink from, and that God certainly did not seem to spare that woman any suffering in her life.

There was a scriptural basis for that belief. The early church fathers pointed to Isaiah, “Before she was in labor she gave birth, before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son.” As I have tremendous respect for the early Church Fathers and the teaching of the Church. I accepted it but took it to the Lord in prayer as to why it had to be this way.

The answer that I got was that it was not to spare His mother but to preserve us from error on both sides.  Those who are opposed to Mary would have pointed to those pains as proof of her being sinner.  Whereas God preserved her from sin so that Jesus might inherit our flesh without inheriting our sinful nature.

Those who love Mary might have erred in thinking that her pains redeemed us from Eve’s curse.  No amount of suffering on Mary’s part, no matter how pure, could provide the necessary reconciliation with God.  Only the sacrifice of Christ could do that.  Indeed, Jesus described His Passion as His hour.  When He foretold His own suffering and that of His disciples it was compared to a woman in labor who forgets all the pain once the child is born.  Jesus’ side was opened and blood and water flowed out much like a woman giving birth.  Jesus side was opened  like Adam’s side was opened when Eve was created.  So the Church was formed from that blood and water at the Cross.

His Passion and Death were Jesus’ labor of love and Mary shared in it intensely.  She would have gladly exchanged a few hours of labor for watching Jesus being tortured, holding her dead son, and placing Him in the tomb.  Mary’s suffering and our own suffering only when it is joined to the suffering of Jesus can it be redemptive for the rest of the Body of Christ.

Christ’s physical body suffered enough to redeem us all in every generation. But like Lazarus coming out of the tomb, the members of the Body of Christ here on earth are still bound by the trappings of death.  Jesus told His followers to unbind Lazarus.  When we unite our suffering to that of Christ’s, it helps others become spiritually unbound.

#trcot #tcot #Mary’s Labor #Redemptive suffering

Related scripture: Isa 66:7, John 11:44, John 12:27, John 16:21, Col 1:24

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