Eucharist – Mothering Sunday – 14th March
Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Mothering Sunday provides the perfect opportunity to take a break from Lent. We might take a moment to notice the bright yellow daffodils and lighter mornings of early spring. Also known as ‘Laetare Sunday,’ at Mass we will put away the purple of Lent and bring out the bright pink or rose vestments for one of their twice-yearly showings. We give thanks for mothers and all who have mothered us.
REJOICE, REJOICE, REJOICE!
And yet, our Gospel story takes us to Golgotha where Jesus is dying upon the cross. Our rejoicing is bitter and sweet.
A person in training for the priesthood was – unusually for them – struggling to prepare a sermon about Mary, Mother of our Lord. He sought advice from a spiritual companion as to why this might be the case. The startling answer came back: “The reason why you will struggle to write this sermon is because you do not love Mary enough. How dare you preach a sermon about Mary if you do not love her.” And so the trainee priest had to pray: “Lord Jesus, help me to love your mother more, so I might learn from her.”
Do you love Mary? What have you learned from her life and example?
For what seems clear from this gospel passage is that the final concern of Jesus from the cross as he gives up his life was to give his mother, Mary, to the beloved disciple, John.
You are a disciple. You, too, can call Mary your mother. From that moment onwards at Golgotha, you can claim that gift from Jesus. The gift of his own mother to be your own mother. Jesus says to each one of us from the cross: “Behold your mother.”
This weekend, Mothering Sunday might provoke in us a range of comforting and troubling emotions. We may feel thankfulness, pride, and joy. We may feel sadness, anger, and regret. We may even feel numb and detached.
We needn’t be concerned but it might be good to notice how we feel about Mothering Sunday. What emotions are stirred in you as you think about your experience of being a mother or of being mothered? Who has cared for and nurtured you?
Stanley Spencer painted The Hen in 1954 as part of the series, ‘Christ in the Wilderness.’ It portrays a rather lumbering Jesus lying on the ground. His body creates an arena where a mother hen is sitting with her chicks even as a small blackbird seems to be moving closer and closer, its intentions unclear. In the mother hen’s fluffy plumage rests the tiniest chick that keeps a weather eye on the blackbird. As the mother hen protects her young, so Jesus protects the mother hen.
May you know and feel God’s protection today and over this weekend as we mark Mothering Sunday. And may you know that Mary, mother of Jesus, is your mother too, as our Lord commanded.