By Margaret Ogbebor SSMA
Birth is a process of coming to life, only those who are alive think of giving birth. When we think about the continuity of our existence we have no other means than to give birth. To give birth is to give life. No dead organism gives birth to life because they have no power to bring forth. Birth is a symbol of continuity. Giving birth do not take place on a platter of gold, there are things to be put in place to make the process to happen. The issue of birth does not stick to only human beings, it cuts across every other thing that are controlled by man, either plant or animal. Another name for birth is procreation by this I mean we are co-creators with God. Birth involves many parties, for a family to continue her lineage there is need for birth (procreation) there must be an agreement between the father and the mother and their union brings forth new life (birth). In the book of Gen 1: 26 When God wanted continuity of creation there was a Trinitarian agreement (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) He said “Let us make man in our own image after our likeness”. Giving birth does not happen by chance it is a well-planned process and it also involves stages; one stage leads to the other.
However, there are lots of pains and agonies when it comes to child birth. Many women do talk about the process and suffering they went through during their delivery stage and their experiences differ from one person to the other. Some women would even suffer for days before actually giving birth, some may not be able to bear the pain, and they eventually die in the process because it is not easy. Some go through Caesarean section (CS) because their pelvic are too small for normal delivery. These processes are made for physical childbirth. Some mothers after their long suffering may end up in “still birth”, which means the child is dead. This situation is always a sorrowful moment, most mothers who pass through this experience do not find it easy. No good mother prays for this type of situation. The joy of every mother is to give birth and then see their child alive and sound. Birth is often a mystery, because it takes a lot to really give birth. Mothers die in other to give life to their children, at that very moment when they push forcefully, their breath ceases at this time, and they actually die to give life. This is a big sacrifice that mothers make when giving birth.
Some women do not want to pass through this process, this is the more reason while some women avoid been pregnant, because most of the time been pregnant often make most women to look ugly, unattractive, shapeless, sickly, change of colour and lazy. Birth takes a great deal. On the other hand, spiritual birth also requires a great deal of sacrifice. Jesus our saviour had made a lot of sacrifices; He passed through passion and pain so that we Christians are given a new birth. From the very moment when He was delivered into the hands of his enemies He was made to pass through sufferings. At first He was betrayed by his own disciple, He was tortured under Pontus Pilate; He was made to carry a very long and heavy rough cross to mount Calvary where He was eventually crucified. His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane was indeed a very painful one, He was disappointed by his own disciples who were supposed to watch with him and they ended up sleeping, it all happened because they were weak spiritually. Jesus had no other choice than to ask them “can’t you just watch with me for an hour” (Matthew 26:40). Jesus made the above statement out of frustration when He was expecting help and encouragement what He got was discouragement, disappointment and pain. He was alone and abandoned by His very own people. The pain and agony of Jesus was endless because He was bearing it alone and no one was willing to help him in the process. Jesus struggled very hard to give us the new birth which we really deserve as children of God. Jesus sacrifice on the cross was to deliver us from death, ancient curse and also to give us new birth into the Christian fold. Through the sacrament of baptism we are been cleansed from original sins, we are made Christians, children of God and members of the church (catechism of Catholic Church). Through this baptism we are given new birth in Christ. This is due to the fact that “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”. (John 3:3) the above statement shows the importance about been born again. The issue of born again is actually referred to the “new birth” we have in Christ Jesus. He made a great sacrifice for us so that we can truly become that new creature that he had really wanted us to be. His death on the cross was the gift of life He had given to us. This new birth became ours when Jesus died on the cross to give us new life. Jesus death on the cross gave us new birth into God’s kingdom. Jesus died to give us not just life but “eternal life” where there is no pain or sorrow, where we are expected to be with God for all eternity.
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Our new birth into a living hope is always nourished by God Himself “As a woman feeds her child with her own blood and milk, so too Christ Himself continually feeds those whom He has begotten with His own blood” (from the instructions of St. John Chrysostom to catechumens) from the above statement we would see that those who are born into a living hope are properly taken care of by God himself. As a mother give birth to her child and nurse him/her to maturity so also all those who are born into a living hope through the waters of baptism are nourished and fed by God Himself. Everyone born of God is regarded as a new creature, and behold everything becomes new. This birth we now enjoy is as a result of God the son sacrificing Himself to cleanse us from every stain of sin just like a new bride without spot or wrinkles. Since we are now born into a new life we should long for heavenly things that would often benefit the soul. Just like the deer that longs for running streams so our souls should always long for God (Psalm 42). Longing for God is one of the hallmarks of a new birth since no human being can stay without food likewise no soul can stay without spiritual nourishment. No wonder it is said that “Our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord”. (St. Augustine of Hippo). This means that it is only in God we actually find perfect peace.
Both physical birth and spiritual birth are concerned about bringing forth life; one is temporary while the other is permanent. Both processes require making sacrifices, the first birth is compulsory and everyone in the world had already passed through it but the second birth is by choice because not everybody is interested in accepting the new birth because of what it entails. Birth is all about continuity, multiplication and increase, the spiritual birth is more important because it is about how we are going to spend our eternity with God. Remain in the peace of Christ!
Sr Margret Ogbebor SSMA is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. [email protected]