On this Mother’s Day, I find myself pondering Mary’s pregnancy and giving birth to a son. I think of Mary as a mother, who took time to be with her child, to nurture him, to feed him, to keep him safe, to teach him life’s lessons, to teach him values, to provide him with guidance, to……… . I find it unfathomable that God would choose to be born of a woman, to become flesh and blood as we are flesh and blood and to be formed in a family setting.
Pope Francis wrote about mothers in his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia
Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self‐centred individualism…It is they who testify to the beauty of life. Certainly, a society without mothers would be dehumanised, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength. Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn… Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth… Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world. (n174)
Jesus charges his apostles and indeed all of us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. We are the ones pregnant with Jesus and giving birth to God each and every moment that we move and breathe. We are all invited to be mothers of the living God.
I refer to our Missionary of Mercy, Fr Richard Shortall SJ as MOM. This week he is at Mayfield West and once again will be available to greet anyone who comes with a warm smile, a set of listening ears and an open heart. He offers God’s mercy and compassion. He is our MOM, the one commissioned by Pope Francis to bring forgiveness, healing and hope.
The following reading from Isaiah (58:6-11) was used at our Mother’s Day Liturgy on Friday and I think it reflects the role of mums:
This is the kind of life I want. Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives. Then my favour will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you, my presence will protect you on every side. When you pray, I will answer you. When you call, I will respond. If you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things and keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water that never runs dry.
Giving birth to the Mystery because of Jesus should compel us to:
... go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our minds sprinkled and fee from any trace of bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is faithful. (Hebrews 10: 22-23)
It is our vocation as individuals, and as the Church, to reveal Jesus. This revelation comes from being loved and in loving. And as we know, there is risk associated in loving and living. As Jesus suffered for what was right and just, so will we experience the grief of loving and losing.
On this Mother’s Day, I have been mindful of our daughter Angela and her grief at losing her baby because she dared to love. Mary grieved greatly as she stood at the foot of the cross, and then held her son before laying him in a tomb. And yet Angela and Sam are courageous enough to continue on with each day, and to say yes to a new pregnancy. They are able to be hopeful in the midst of despair. This is what the Ascension is about.
Our God surrounds us with a mother’s embrace. This God does not abandon us, but holds each of us in the palm of ‘her’ hand and soothes our aching hearts. We have something amazing to share, especially for those who are lost and seeking. It will be rejected by those who seek a rational response to life. I hope you are open to capturing this great mystery in your relationships, in art, in music, in creation and wherever you find ‘awe and wonder’.
We were born from the Mystery, to return to the Mystery, and to live each day in between seeking the Mystery.