The First and Most Perfect Communicator – Mother’s Day 2018
My experience is that there is usually something relevant about coincidences in the dates of significant days. Today, 13 May is both Mother’s Day and World Communications Day. It doesn’t take long to decide on the person who first taught us about communication – even in the womb.
The bond between mother and child is one of the most essential bonds in our lives, probably the most essential. No doubt that is why scripture often uses maternal language to describe the relationship God has with each of us.
It’s even stronger than the bond we have with our fathers. It exists across time and species. It’s stronger than any tragedy that happens to people. Humans experience it, but so do all other mammals. There are all kinds of physiological and psychological explanations about what happens in the womb.
I’ve recounted this memory before. In the early 2000s, I came to after a lengthy surgery for a brain tumour. There was a person sitting in a chair at the foot of my bed in the hospital room. She was there almost whenever I opened my eyes for the next several days. It was my mother.
At some point I think I suggested that she could take more breaks. I remember her stressing that it was a mother’s vocation to be there for her child in need, even if that child was 45 years of age.
I’m told that the heavy drugs made me impatient and rude. Yet, my mother never complained about my attitude. Mothers are like that. It was a clear reminder to me that a mother’s vocation never ends. My mother is almost 88 at this point, and I am 62, but that maternal vocation and instinct is still strong.
A mother’s vocation never ends! I’ve relished seeing my sisters and my nieces becoming new mothers. I’ve enjoyed seeing multigenerational photos on Facebook this spring – my newest grandniece, my niece, my sister and my mother.
Scripture offers us many comparisons between God’s love and a mother’s love. Isaiah probably says it best in comparing a mother’s love to God’s love. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?”
We hear in the Gospel that Mary pondered her son, Jesus. That pondering isn’t that different from the pondering and worrying that any mother has about her child. “What will become of my child? How will he turn out? Will she be healthy and happy?”
And that pondering never really disappears. It’s not as if our mothers raise us and then abandon us! Even in our adulthood, our mothers are concerned about us. They are there for the child who needs them most, especially in a time of crisis.
I remember a story included in a homily years ago. Mrs. Murphy was being interviewed on the radio about having raised ten children. The interviewer asked her if she had a favourite among the ten. She quietly said that she didn’t.
He persisted in asking her the same question in a variety of ways. She finally relented and told him that, yes, she had a favourite. He was smug as he said, “Ha! I knew you must have a favourite.” Mrs. Murphy replied, “Yes, my favourite is always the one who needs me the most.”
There are some strong scriptural mothers besides Mary. Eve, the first mother, no doubt suffered terrible grief because one of her sons murdered the other. Sarah came to motherhood late in life. Rebekah shows us that mothers sometimes have to be assertive and take matters into their own hands.
There are many other illustrations of the reality that mothers have to be prepared for all kinds of situations, both pleasant and painful.
Popular thoughts about Mother’s Day range from the saccharine to the profound. One of the drawbacks to having a day dedicated to mothers is that we too often focus on them on that single day and take them for granted for the rest of the year.
Most mothers are probably too practical to want every day to be Mother’s Day, but it’s not a bad idea to give them extra attention more often. Happy Mother’s Day!