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God’s Midwife

June 8, 2014 click on left end of black bar to play-pause

June 8, 2014
John 20:19-23
Fr. George Smiga

Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel Jesus invites us to receive the Holy Spirit. But what are we receiving? Who is the Holy Spirit in our lives? Images must be used, and today I’d like to suggest one that I think is particularly helpful. The Holy Spirit can be seen as God’s midwife. A midwife is a person, a man or a woman, who assists a woman giving birth to a child. The Holy Spirit can be seen as God’s assistance to us as we give birth to new things in our lives. The Spirit in this sense is God’s guidance through the transitions of life. And, as we all know, life is often one transition after another. Most of us here today recognize some transition on the horizon.

It might be a transition occasioned by graduation, by leaving our old school behind and preparing to enter a new school with new relationships, or no school with a full-time job. It might be occasioned by the commitment we make to another person in marriage, leaving the single life behind and building our life now around the person that we love and the family that we will share together. It might be occasioned by loss, as we grieve the people who are no longer with us because of death and as we try to imagine living without them.

In all of these transitions the Spirit of God can be seen as God’s midwife assisting us as we give birth to something new. And what is so helpful about the image of the midwife is the respect that it shows to our participation in the process. A midwife does not replace the mother. She does not do it for her. A midwife sits facing the mother giving encouragement, advice, and sometimes pressing down on the woman’s abdomen to encourage the child to come out. In the same way, the Spirit of God does not replace us. Our initiative, our insight, our effort are all necessary. The Spirit does not do it for us. But the Spirit sits with us encouraging us, advising us, and sometimes exerting some pressure.

It is important then for us to recognize this midwife presence of the Spirit in our lives. As you enter your new college campus for the first time and are overwhelmed by the new places and faces, it is important to hear the Spirit say in encouragement, “You can do this. You know who you are. You can make friends. You know how to study. Let this new life come forth.” As you live the first year of marriage, it is important to let the Spirit advise you as she says, “Be honest with your spouse. Let your spouse know what you need and what you feel. Do not let the fear of an argument cause you to side-step what is important. Love only grows in the presence of truth.” As you cope with the loss of someone that you love, be prepared to feel the Spirit’s pressure as she says, “Yes, it is sad that he or she is no longer with you. But there is life to be lived. It is a new life that is worth living, and you are not going to find it here alone sitting in your house. You need to get out there. It is time to push.”

The Holy Spirit is God’s midwife assisting us through the transitions of life. We have to do the work. We have to be the one who pushes. But it is important to trust the Spirit’s presence. Her encouragement, her advice, and at times her pressure will lead us to new life.

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