Mother’s Day – Sixth Sunday of Easter
Today is a celebration of both the sixth Sunday of Easter and Mother’s Day. Today’s Gospel includes the second half of the account of the true vine. Jesus invites us to “love one another, as I have loved you.” He goes on to say that no can have greater love than to lay down one’s life for friends.
The Gospel ends with a reiteration from Jesus about loving one another. And, in case we don’t get the point, the second reading from the First Letter of John says pretty well the same thing. Jesus is the ultimate in laying down his life.
This is my first Mother’s Day being unable to speak to my mother and to express my love and gratitude. She died about a year ago, just weeks from her 90th birthday. She actually had a serious stroke last Mother’s Day and died a week later.
Today’s Gospel strikes me as relevant for this day when we acknowledge our mothers, living and deceased. Although the day is, strictly speaking, a secular celebration, a Gospel inviting an exhortation to love one another seems a suitable connection between Easter and Mother’s Day.
After all, who is the first person who showed us what it is to love another! That goes right back to the womb and continues as long as our mothers are still there, caring for us and loving us in whatever ways we most need and when we most need that gift.
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. I finally realized that 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.
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.
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.
Today’s scripture reminds us of the love of one another that we first experienced from our mothers. Let’s celebrate them this day.