Mother’s Day 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Easter


We celebrate and acknowledge a few things today – It is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. It is World Day of Prayer for Vocations (thus the Gospel excerpt from the Good Shepherd). It is also Canada Health Day. Oh! And we celebrate Mother’s Day!

The prophet Isaiah asks, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?” In a similar way, most of us probably state, “Can a child forget its mother?” Like many others, I would say that my closest friend is my mother.

She is 88 (89 in a month), still very sharp and living on her own. She can still complete a difficult crossword, and fill it in with ink! I cannot imagine what it will be like to not speak with her by phone and to visit in person. That will happen. I cannot predict when it will happen. But I know that it will be traumatic.

A mother’s vocation never ends. I’m absolutely certain that there are elderly mothers who still worry about their children. There are worrying mothers who lie awake at night. About sixteen years ago, I woke up 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 at that point (September of 2002).

I’m told that the heavy drugs made me impatient and rude. Yet, my mother never complained about my attitude. Most mothers are like that.

Scripture offers 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 …” 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 – be it health, finances, legal or moral concerns.

There are some strong scriptural mothers besides Mary. Eve, 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. Scripture shows that they usually rise to the occasion.

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!

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Peter Chouinard
    Posted at 05:59h, 12 May Reply

    I was blessed to have my mother, Helen Elizabeth in my life until she was 93. Sharp and loving until the day she passed.

    My children’s mother, Theresa Lucy, passed early at 63. They and I still grieve her loss and my children find Mother’s Day a mixed blessing but at times also difficult. Thankfully, happy memories are filling our hearts these days.

    In God’s profound wisdom, the grace of these two wonderful women continues to unfold in our lives.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers today.

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 12:08h, 12 May Reply

    My mother was pretty remarkable, in my opinion. Born in 1908, and in her 1st Year of University at the age of 16 with a medical career her goal, she had to abandon her Uni studies with the death of both her parents, and took up teaching instead. A widow at 32 with six children between the ages of not-quite-ten and 3 months (myself), and losing one of her children within a few months of the death of her husband, with no social security to fall back on in India, she raised and educated us, and I never once heard a word of complaint from her at her lot in life. Migrating to Australia in her mid-sixties, she adapted to her new lifestyle with ease and self-assurance. Admitted to hospital for a heart problem, she slipped to her death while showering a day before she was due to be discharged; and we learned later from family and friends back in India that they had received lively letters from her in the post a week or two after we informed them by phone of her passing. I salute my mother, a woman of faith, warm-hearted and cultured, and ahead of her times in many ways.

  • Esther Gilbert
    Posted at 14:33h, 12 May Reply

    Thank you, Philip

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 15:36h, 12 May Reply

    Thank you Philip!

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