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Friday, 28 May 2021 11:54

Those who mother are the visible face of God - a reflection

 

Fr Nick de Groot thumbnail JPEGBy Fr Nick de Groot SVD

Mother earth, mother nature, or as we hear in Isaiah, if a mother should ever forget the child of her womb, I shall never forget you, says God. I am THE MOTHER of all that is. I have born you in my womb, and my joy is complete when you are in my arms, happy and complete. It is my joy to give you life and for you to have it to the full. Remain in my love.

The power of giving life is not only a biological reality, as precious and special as that is, but giving life also includes those who nurture, those who listen, those who care for, those who reach out to others.

Mother earth 550For many years now, ever since this Mothers’ Day celebration started in the early 1900s, clergy in all churches, whenever Mothers’ Day comes around, have asked mothers to stand up in the church and all other people to clap to acknowledge them.  If you look on the web today and ask about Mothers’ Day information, you will find a very earnest request from some women: Dear clergy, please do not ask mothers to stand up in front of all those fellow parishioners in church. I could not have children and for me it is the worst day for me to go to church.

In the past, too many people were left out – for example, those who tried but could not bear children, those who lost children, single women and yes, all nuns.

I happened to have read a book last year which was written by a woman who, with her husband Tony, were not able to have children. The title of the book is “Life to the full: Stories of Infertility, Faith and a Hope-filled Future”, by Debra Vermeer.

Reflecting on the request, “please do not ask all mothers to stand up in the congregation!” one realises that standing up can separate and divide. The intention might be good, but the side effects are not so good.

So, listening to the Gospel text of the Sunday in which Jesus asks his disciples to love as he has loved and to remain in his love, I thought to talk about the nature of love and care, the nature of real presence of one person to another that is life giving. That is certainly the calling of all mothers in a special way and that is one of the ways God’s face is present to a child. But God’s loving presence is to be in all of us, women and men.

Today we like to give thanks for the way women have shown the loving face of God in their life and we pray for them and with them. We include here all the young girls present, to tell them that they are important and that they have role models to learn from and imitate. They are precious in God’s eyes. They are held in God’s arms and in God’s love.

At the end of our Eucharist, one of the parishioners appeared with a basket full of roses and went around to all the women, one by one, young and old, yes the youngest girl in the community also received a rose. You should have seen the smile on her face and the way she carried the rose out of the church and to the car to bring it home. I hope and pray she will not forget this special occasion. Learn to love as Jesus loved. That is the one commandment that covers all and is enough.

Just before the final blessing I asked all members of the congregation to say together the prayer below:

Mother’s Day Prayer

Lord, we remember the mothers

who have gone before us.

For their love, sacrifice, struggle and joy,

we thank you.

Lord, we remember the mothers of Scripture

who are part of our story

as we are a part of your story.

For their courage, faith, love and fierceness,

we thank you.

Lord, we remember those who have not given birth to us,

but are mothers to us.

For their gift of themselves that they have given,

we thank you.

For the women who struggle with fertility,

for those women whom society labels as less in their childlessness,

for those women who have lost children;

for their tears, for their strength,

for their wisdom, for their lives,

we thank you.

Jesus, in your name we pray and ask for your blessing on all. 

Amen.

(Claire Schoepp)

 

IMAGE: Shutterstock.