Honouring Our Mothers

Rev Fr C Joseph
Counsellor, St Joseph’s College (Autonomous)

Today we thank our mothers, pray for them, and honour them by celebrating Mother’s Day. This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us is able to return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on their children is so great that it affects the children throughout their lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in their religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behaviour, disciplined us as best as they could, and made us good citizens of our country, our Church, and our society. Mother’s Day is for all the mothers in our congregations, whether they are alive here or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “Mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agape love in its purest form, as commanded by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them before God.

Mothers should be saluted: The ones who love us most are our mothers. A new born babe’s first cry is nothing but a struggle to pronounce the word mother. Even the Orphan knows the meaning of this word. Whenever we hear the word ‘Mother’, we feel a special pleasant feeling within us. It is because ‘Mother’ is the incorporation of all that is best and most beautiful, most enchanting, most charming on earth for us. It is the personification of goodness, love, beauty. Her heart is as large as the sea; her tender arms are ever wide open to clasp her falling child, her eyes ever eager to gaze with love upon her child. Mothers should be saluted: 1) For their tenacious and sacrificial love for their children. 2) For the tremendous impact they have on their children. 3) For their intimate relationship with us from birth to death. We learn to speak by calling “Mom” and die with the same name on our lips.

Though we give special honour to our mothers on Mother’s Day, our honour for them should extend throughout the year! The Fifth Commandment instructs us to “honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). When we are young, we can show honour and respect for our mom through simple things like cleaning our bedrooms, doing the dishes and picking up dirty laundry. As we grow older, we show honour and respect by seeking our parents’ advice, not thinking we know better, coming home on time and not speaking disrespectfully. As we enter adulthood, we honour them in different ways-such as keeping in touch with them and helping when needs arise. 

Mothers and motherly women in the Bible: Certainly, the Bible recognizes women in positions of power-women who have contributed to making the world a better place. There was Miriam who led the people in praising God after the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex 15:21); Ruth who put God first and became the ancestress of King David (Ruth 1:16; 4:17); Deborah, a judge in Israel (Judges 5); Hannah who “gave to the Lord” the child of her prayers (1 Sam 1:28); Esther who took her life in her hands to plead for her doomed people (Esther C:14-30); the pagan widow whose obedience sustained the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:9-16); a little captive Jewish maid who told Naaman’s wife of the man of God in Israel who could cure Naaman of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:2-4). The most important mother in the New Testament is Jesus’ Mother, Mary, to whom Jesus, on the cross, gave John, his beloved friend, to be her son; at the same time, Jesus gave His Mother to John, and all the rest of us for whom He was dying, to be our Heavenly Mother. Jesus praised the poor widow for her gift of two mites to the Temple (Mk 12:43). The New Testament also presents some women who showed maternal love. There is the woman who anointed Jesus with the expensive ointment (Mk 14:3); Martha who served and Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus (Lk 10:38-42); Mary Magdalene who brought spices to anoint Jesus, who first greeted the risen Lord, and who received the first commission-“Go, tell….” (Jn 20:17-18; Mk 16:9); Lydia one of the first converts in Macedonia (Acts 16:14); Tabitha, called Dorcas-full of good works (Acts 9:36); Phoebe and Priscilla-servants of the Church (Rom 16:1-4); Lois and Eunice who had sincere faith (2 Tim 1:5), Persis “the beloved,” and Tryphena and Tryphosa who laboured for the Lord (Rom 16:12). So being a mother does not suggest lack of initiative and ability; it does mean getting one’s priorities straight. It doesn’t mean freeing men from all responsibility with young children; it does mean a mutual sharing of responsibilities with the recognition of individual gifts and needs.

Eminent men on mothers: George Washington once said, “My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” Abraham Lincoln spoke similar words when he said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.” Theodore Roosevelt has the following beautiful advice to all mothers: “Into the woman’s keeping is committed the destiny of the generations to come after us. In bringing up your children, you mothers must remember that, while it is essential to love and be tender, it is no less essential to be wise and firm.” Thomas Edison once said, “I did not have my mother long, but she cast over me an influence which has lasted all my life. The good effects of her early training I can never lose. If it had not been for her appreciation and her faith in me at a critical time in my experience, I should never likely have become an inventor. I was always a careless boy, and with a mother of different mental caliber, I should have turned out badly. But her firmness, her sweetness, her goodness were potent powers to keep me in the right path. My mother was the making of me. The memory of her will always be a blessing to me.”

Prayers for mothers on Mother’s Day: For all mothers, particularly those who are with child that they may be supported by loved ones and warm friends, and that they may be understood and blessed. For young mothers everywhere, and especially those who are tempted to despair, that through the child they carry deep within, they might know hope and joy. For all mothers, especially those who are young or alone, beaten or addicted, that God may heal their broken hearts and seal them with his love. For mothers, especially those wracked with fear, depression or despair, that the new life of their child may touch them with the eternal love of God. For young mothers tempted to abort their child, that God’s grace may give them the wisdom and fortitude to preserve the gift they carry within them. For all mothers tempted to abortion, that God may teach us how to love them. For expectant mothers, for the gifts of patient endurance and joyful hope. For each mother who has miscarried, that her love for the child of her womb may deliver her from grief and join her to the hope of the Cross of Christ. For pregnant teenagers, that we may provide examples for them of holy and faithful married love. For the eternal repose of our deceased mothers.

Thank you mothers: Thank you, dear Lord, for our mothers, who were brave enough to give us birth, who loved us through many growing-up years, who taught us about God and love and being good, who often got no thanks, whose ears could hear the slightest cry, whose eyes didn’t miss much either, whose hands held and bathed and picked us up, whose hearts were often broken, who always forgave and forgot, who encouraged us when things went badly, who always had time to listen to us, who worked so hard to make things go well, who made the world so much better-who deserve our love on Mother’s Day and every day even for eternity. Thank you, mothers, and thank you, grandmothers. Your love and examples encourage us to be better people and servants ourselves. Your work to build and strengthen our foundation is not overlooked or forgotten. Thank you for your example.