In a few days, here in the U.S., we will be celebrating Mother’s Day. With this in mind, I began to wonder, “Why do we celebrate Mother’s Day?” In a quick search of the internet, I found that a day honoring mothers has existed in many cultures for thousands of years under many names. I discovered that our own U.S. celebration began with one woman, Ann Jarvis, remembering her own mother during a memorial at a Methodist Church in West Virginia in 1908. It impressed me that one woman’s love and respect for her own mother was the one drop in the pond which sent ripples far and wide for over a century thus far.
Ann Jarvis’ recognition of her own mother led me to think about all our maternal roots. For many, like Ann and myself, the physical presence of our moms and grandmoms is gone. We can place flowers on their graves or have a Mass celebrated in their memories, but we can not hold their hands, give them a kiss, hear the sound of their laughter, or taste one of their delicious meal I’m sure that many of us wish we could have them back in the flesh just one more day! To those who are grieving this Mother’s Day I say, “Take consolation in knowing that, in their new lives, they are no more than a breath away.” Whenever you think of them, pray for them, or miss them, their spirit is right there with you. The love you shared bridges the chasm created by death.
Some of you may have the opportunity to see your mothers, and possibly grandmothers, every day. I hope you really appreciate what a gift that is. I know that close relationships aren’t always peaceful or as loving as we would like. After all, we are imperfect. Sometimes we have said hurtful things or have not been as attentive as we could have been. Now is the time to make those physical relationships the best you can by loving as generously as you can. Today is the time for forgiving and being humble enough to ask forgiveness when you have fallen short.
Lastly, some of you may never have known your mother. On this special day, I pray that you will honor the people who God has put in your lives to act as mother figures. Maybe you have an adoptive mom, mother-in-law, aunt, sister, teacher, or friend who nurtures your soul and challenges you to grow, because that is the heart of motherhood. In this regard many of us have been blessed to have several “Moms” in our lives.
If you happen to be Catholic, you are abundantly blessed because our faith tradition tells us that motherhood, and the celebration of Mother’s Day, is not merely a biological reality, and encourages us to look to Mary, Jesus’ mother, as our own spiritual mother! I have a good Redemptorist priest friend who will often say, “I need to talk that over with Mom,” when he is going to pray the rosary. I hope this Mother’s Day, we will all take the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship to our Blessed “Mom”, because I believe we truly please Jesus, when we show love for his mother.
As a Catholic I recognize another level to this Mother’s Day, because Scripture encourages us to consider Mary’s response to the Archangel Gabriel, “be it done unto me according to your word.” Our Church has called this response Mary’s “fiat,” literally meaning her “let it be so.” We are urged to look to Mary as our example of trust, courage, and love of God. Each day every one of us is called to make our own “fiat.” Mary’s example can give us the courage to say “Yes!” to God’s will for our lives. We are asked to open our hearts and allow Christ, “the anointed one,” to be nurtured and brought to birth anew in this world. We are all, in one sense, called to be mothers to Jesus Christ. Of course, we can never carry Him in a womb as Mary did, but we can carry Him in our hearts and share his love as she did. So, with that in mind, I wish each of you, man or woman, child or adult, “Happy Mother’s Day.”