And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
On Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day) we give thanks for those who Mother us, for those who today and in years gone by have given themselves to and for us. For those who have made sacrifices so that we might enjoy life. In many communities now-a-days, to say thank you only to Mums is to ignore so many others who care for us. In families across our town and our land, grandparents, aunties, uncles, fathers, foster parents and social services carers provide motherly love and care to many children. Mothering Sunday is a day when we can celebrate all who have and do provide motherly care.
The reading from the Gospel of John reminds us that loving and caring in this way is a sacrifice of self-giving. A vocation to which many of us are called. A vocation which not only means a daily grind of tiredness and worry, but one which often can involve experiencing the deepest of pain – sometimes because that care is rejected by those we love, sometimes because of the hurt done to those we love and care for.
It is a caring that sometimes feels completely impotent as we watch what happens to those we love.
Mary understood that pain. At the death of her Son, she bore in her body the pain of the cross – she felt the nails being hammered into the wrists of her son, she agonised as she watched him die the most painful of deaths. She had to release her child into God=s eternal care long before his time. And as those things happened I=m sure she will have felt a mixture of all the emotions a mother can feel – anger, guilt, shame, and deep aching loss. Like any mother, her grief was unbearable.
Mary also understood the joy of motherhood – she watched her precocious child grow to be a wonderful man. She felt the joy of being part of the making of this special son.
Mothers today face all of these emotions. Today we stand with them, pray for them and celebrate their self-giving love. We pledge ourselves again, for another year to work for the stability of family life, to help those who find the burden of caring too difficult.
And on a weekend when the nation has just celebrated Red Nose Day we also reflect on the tremendous burden born by mothers, grandparents and others, as they watch the healthy younger generation around our world dying for lack of drugs to treat those who are HIV positive, who see children dying for nothing other than the lack of clean water, or the cost of a mosquito net
We see the burden of care carried by so few for so many children, we see the children struggling for lack of food, their carers working night and day to bring in only just enough for survival.
In other ways today, our celebration is mixed with sadness and mourning.
We are aware of people important to us, whom we have lost. ….
Our prayers also carry the weight of what we saw on Friday evening on our televisions and what we know to be true for many around our world.
And we bring all this, the stuff of life in our world, the joy and the struggle, with us as we approach the altar for our Communion. And as we take the bread and the wine we give thanks for all that our Mothers mean to us, all that our Mothers have meant to us. And as we remember Jesus’ own sacrifice, we try to understand and feel the pain of those who suffer for love throughout our world today.