Sunday, 15 March 2015
Mothering Sunday, 4th Sunday of Lent, Year B
In our Scripture readings today there are a number of themes, and I’m going to focus on one: the Love of God for us: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”(Jn 3:16) and, “God loved us with so much love that He was generous with His mercy”(Eph 2:4).
I want to speak today, on Mothering Sunday, about how God’s plan for humanity is such that He has given us mothers to give us an emotional understanding of this divine love.
God has made us the kind of social beings that need to experience love. He’s not made us like lizards that hatch out of an egg, all alone, with no need to be mothered and loved. No, he’s made us the kind of beings that need to be loved, and this human experience of being loved, as a mother is called to give, gives us a taste of God’s love for us.
Let me note at least three things that mothers are called to do. (These actually apply to fathers too, though today we think of mothers, so I'll phrase this referring to them.)
First, mothers are called to introduce their children to God and to those truths that relate to God.
So, even though prayer comes naturally to children, I still needed someone to teach me how to kneel by the side of my bed and pray, and my mother gave me that teaching.
Second, and linked, mothers are called to introduce their children to the right way to live: the virtues; the commandments; the life Christ showed us.
I needed someone to teach me not to punch my little sister, and that person was my mother.
Third, to return to my beginning, MOTHERS ARE CALLED UPON TO TEACH US THAT WE ARE LOVED.
And this is my main point today.
In religion classes and sermons we are taught that God loves us.
BUT in order for me to understand, emotionally, what it means to say that, “God loves me”, I first need to have had an emotional EXPERIENCE of what it means that someone loves me.
When my mother fed me I experienced what it was to be loved.
When my mother kept me warm I experienced what it was to be loved.
Similarly, when she protected me, forgave me, held me, and so forth, I experienced what it is to be loved.
I don't think I have ever doubted that I was loved, and this must be a gift I have received from my parents.
This was part of God’s plan for what parents are supposed to do for children: that we might have a taste of the fact that God loves us. So that when we see and hear about God loving us it might make sense to us. It might enable us to have an opening to that even GREATER love that God has for me, for He loves me even more than my mother does.
And of course, in reverse, as we grow older, our knowledge and experience of how God loves and forgives us can help HEAL those emotional wounds within us from the different ways our parenting fell short of what it should have been.
Parental love can introduce me to God;
God’s love can heal my lack of experiencing parental love.
So today, on Mothering Sunday, let us pray for those who lack a mother’s love.
Let us give thanks to God for the experience of love He gave us through our mothers.
And let us realise that this points to the even deeper love that God has for you and for me, because, as Scripture puts it, “does a mother forget the child at her breast? Yet even if she forgets, I will never forget you”(Isa 49:15).