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.

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 Bisson
    Posted at 01:40h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you Philip!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 01:53h, 09 May Reply

    There are probably many words of expression that we have in our hearts to show our love for our mothers, and we must also remember with the greatest of respect those who fill and fulfill the role of the mother in many families today. Husbands without partners striving to raise their children, Grandparents who become role models for the siblings There are so many situations in our complex lives today. But still the greatest of these is and alway’s will be that of the’MOTHER ‘And I will alway’s be happy to say that I had” A MOTHER AS LOVELY AS YOU” MY MUM. REST IN PEACE.

  • Peggy Spencer
    Posted at 04:40h, 09 May Reply

    A beautiful understanding of the unique relationship between a mother and her child truly summed up in the words of Isaiah – ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?’

  • Lois Greene
    Posted at 04:54h, 09 May Reply

    Well said. Thank you so much. Your mother did her mothering with care!

  • Dodzi Amemado
    Posted at 05:21h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you very much, Fr. Philip. From up there, your mother continues to care and pray for you.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 07:03h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you for this touching reflection, Fr. Phil.

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 13:11h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful reflection!

  • CharlesPottie-P âté, sj /
    Posted at 19:20h, 09 May Reply

    Thank you Phil. A fine reflection on today’s Gospel and the connection of a mother’s love to God’s love, with the example of your own mother. I brought in a similar connection to my homily today. Thanks be to God for our mothers (and fathers – but they’ll have their day next month!) and how they showed us God’s maternal love.

  • Elia Cuomo
    Posted at 21:10h, 09 May Reply

    “When all the world is against you, there’s a mother waiting still.” I read this somewhere a long time ago and it’s very true.

  • Peter Jeffrey
    Posted at 22:12h, 09 May Reply

    A Mothers” Day recognition is so important especially at a time in our society when family values are so often undervalued. Let us treasure and pray for Mothers both living and deceased.

  • Daniel Marinovic
    Posted at 23:30h, 09 May Reply

    This was a wonderful reflection Father Shano. Thank you sincerely for sharing.

  • Margaret Manitowabi
    Posted at 06:31h, 10 May Reply

    Your message of a mother’s love is so heartwarming especially with so many mothers and grandmothers having to step up some having to raise grandchildren. You were and continue to be truly blessed to have had an earthly mother who exemplified unconditional love. I was reminded of “ I’ll love you forever “ by Robert Munsch. I too am blessed to be a mother and a grandmother which I treasure everyday being there for family keeping it simple. God Bless you Fr. Phil Shano. S.J

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