‘Love is infinitely rewarding and endlessly demanding.’ I suspect many mothers find some affinity with that statement! In mothers too, we very often glimpse the extraordinary embodied in the ordinary.
A mother’s love spans every emotion and often knows no bounds. It can be blind love that sees no wrong in a wayward child, or the beautiful love exemplified by Mary in the Bethlehem stable or at Calvary.
Mothering Sunday was originally about returning to the ‘mother church’ where we were baptized, to give thanks for that baptism. As a child, I remember the day to be a bright and breezy affair, full of child participation and hosts of golden daffodils! Oh yes, together with a huge tea at my Grandmother’s, eating much Simnel Cake. Happy memories.
However, those memories can be in danger of becoming somewhat romanticized and a little unrealistic. The Bible is more realistic and at times uncomfortably raw. We read of the mother of Moses, Jochebed, forced to give up her son to preserve his life, abandoning him to the River Nile in a wicker basket. Samuel’s mother Hannah had to give up her son to God and the Temple, after only a relatively brief period of motherly care. Simeon warns Mary with chilling candour, that her son would prompt great opposition and she would feel the force of it.
Nothing sentimental or cosy here, but rather stark truth and harsh reality. Motherhood is certainly no soft option. Ask the mothers of Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia to name only a few places, suffering oppression this very day. Ask the single mother in our community, recently bereaved, or on Income Support, struggling to make ends meet.
We thank God today for the life, support and love of our Mothers. Let us also take time to celebrate the service and devotion of all women, making a contribution in diverse roles to our lives and to society, and extend to them our deep appreciation.
Finally, let us pray for those Mothers and Father who each day tread another painful step on the road to Calvary. May the motherly love we have experienced also overflow through us to them and others all the days of our life.
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