Friday, May 07 2021
“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”
On the second Sunday of May we honor our mothers. For those still blessed with their mother, we try to give thanks to them in person. Last week I mentioned that agape love is the unconditional, abiding love that God shows us. This is expressed in the person of Jesus Christ and demonstrated in the relationship of the Father and the Son. Yet for many of us, this is demonstrated to us by the love that we are shown from our own mother. For me, I treasure the example of Christ’s love that my mother has shown to me in my lifetime. For those who no longer have your mother, I hope you give thanks and treasure the memories that become more precious with each passing day.
This week in the church, we celebrate the lives of two wonderful saints who were both mothers. Julian of Norwich was an English mystic who taught that divine love could best be expressed with motherly love. She wrote one of the first and certainly one of the best known books in the English language written by a mystic, Revelations of Divine Love. During her lifetime, the city of Norwich suffered the devastating effects of the Black Death, which affected large parts of England in 1381. Mother Julian fell seriously ill and she thought she was on her deathbed. She received a series of visions of the Passion of Christ. Her perspective of a mother and a mystic is somewhat lacking in scripture, but we find several good examples. The prophet Isaiah asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
The Catholic theologian, St. Augustine knew the love of God through his mother, Monica. We celebrated the life of Monica this week as a saint and mother on Tuesday. Augustine remembered in his book Confessions that his inner life was dominated by the love that his mother, Monica had for him. Augustine speaks of his mother as follows, “In the flesh she brought me to birth in this world: in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal light” (Confessions). In the temporal world, his mother lived her whole life for that one moment when her son would come to the eternal life of Christianity. She stayed with him in prayer at every turn of his life. She told Saint Augustine, "There was one reason, and one alone, why I wished to remain a little longer in this life, and that was to see you a Christian before I died"(Confessions).
For me, I knew God’s love before I knew God through the love of my mother. Her constant care, prayer, and love have been consistent through my whole life. With the same unconditional love that God loves us, we can love one another. At times in my life and certainly in the life of St. Augustine, we walk in paths that are divergent to that agape love, living for ourselves and unappreciative of those who love us. By the grace of God we eventually find our way and turn back to God. This is also important to remember if some of our moms have not always lived up to our own expectations. We forgive them as they forgive us.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms! Thank you for everything you do. Thanks be to God whose perfect love can be seen in the Gospel through Jesus Christ. All praise and glory be to you forever and ever.
In Christ’s love,