“Call your mother.”
Sometimes we need a subtle – or not so subtle – reminder to reach out, to make an effort and contact those in our lives who have had an impact, an influence and been a support as we have grown and developed. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in motherhood.
We have all sorts of reminders during this month of May. On the secular front, we observe Mother’s Day on May 9th this year; the Church traditionally sets aside the month of May to honour Mary (particularly with devotional practices such as communal recitation of the rosary and other Marian prayers). This month is a time of new birth and growth in the natural world of the northern hemisphere. It all points us toward the crucial role of motherhood – of participation in creation, salvation and development.
With the exception of marketing to promote sales and services for a particular ‘occasion’, our culture increasingly diminishes the intrinsic value that motherhood has, simply by its existence. Our Creator invites us as humans to participate in continuing His divine act of loving each of us into existence; mothers, intimately connected to this ongoing creative process surrender their own selves to bring another into the world. They are called (and it is a calling, a true vocation – not just circumstances or a coincidence) to nurture, to care for, to raise and support the child that they have been graced with. In our faith, mothers have a key role in raising their children (as the baptism ritual notes) according to the Gospel, to love God and to love their neighbour as themselves as Christ commanded.
Yet, we now live in a world and society where the blessing and gift of motherhood is often looked upon as a curse, or a burden. The siren call of this culture says that children prevent women from achieving their own full potential, their own desires and ambitions, their own comforts. Even more recently there is a movement in certain ‘politically correct’ circles to reduce the gift of motherhood simply to a bodily function devoid of the respect due to women who answer and fulfil this vocational calling that is key to our very existence and our relationship with our Creator.
True, in the circumstances leading to birth, a woman has to adapt, alter her plans and lifestyle and set aside certain activities and wants in the moment; but doesn’t that happen every time any person desires to move towards something that is truly life-giving and positive in their lives?
In today’s Gospel passage from St. John, Jesus speaks at the last supper to his disciples about what true love is. It is not an emotion, a ‘feeling’, or simply a physical act. Love is deliberately and intentionally wishing for and working for the good of the ‘other’.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this; than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
There is no more direct or poignant way to describe the true essence of motherhood than that. Mothers surrender much in order to see the light of life and love in their own child’s eyes. They suffer for their children, rejoice for their children, and delight in their children.
So whether your thoughts this weekend wander to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our spiritual mother, offer a prayer. If your mother is no longer living among us, offer a prayer and a word to her. If your mother is still on this earth, pick up your technology of choice and reach out, if you are not able to physically be with her.
Call your mother.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!