Remembering Mother’s Day

This weekend, across the country, we will celebrate a wonderful day, Mother’s Day.  I hope all of you have a great weekend, in spite of the Colorado weather! I remember receiving potted flowers from my family on Mother’s Day, and planting flowers from the garden center just after that special day.  But I am living in Summit County now, just outside of Dillon, Colorado, at 8700 feet of elevation, and we will be lucky to plant flowers at Father’s Day!

So, in honor of motherhood, I would like to think about how special it is to have mothers and to be a mother, and the wisdom of God expressed through mothers.  If you are not a mother, you certainly had one, at some point in your life.  Motherhood is important in the eyes of God, so important that it affects all us, from animals to human beings –  so here are some…


•The mother who gives birth to the largest baby on earth is the mother elephant. After enduring 22 months of pregnancy, she gives birth to a blind, 200-pound baby calf.

•Polar bear moms put on around 400 pounds during their pregnancy. If the mother doesn’t double her weight, her body will simply reabsorb the fetus.

•A mother orangutan never puts her babies down and typically nurses them for 6 or 7 years, which is the longest mother/child nursing dependence of any animal on Earth.

See moms, it could have been worse!! 

Some women have children, and some do not. Some adopt children, or foster children, or act as mentors of children in their local communities. In one capacity or more, nearly every woman displays the quality of motherhood at some point in her life. Teachers, doctors, nurses, legal professionals – so many women have cared for children with the same compassion and tenderness as if they were their own. 

For me personally, I remember my mother who passed away in 2007.  I miss her still. She was from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and I learned a lot from my visits to her hometown as I was growing up. Mississippi was a foreign land to a little Colorado girl. With my mom, my brother and I visited the south nearly once a year, and I have such fond memories of southern food, and flowers and rain and humidity, mosquitoes and magnolia blossoms…I fell in love with grits, shrimp, and pecans.

My first cousin David, a native Mississippian, wrote these words:

“In ways that we can scarcely comprehend, our mothers are woven into the very fabric of our being. Our moms give us essential nurture and care when we are still too young to understand what our own needs are. As we grow older we count on our mothers to care for us not only physically but emotionally, even when we don’t deserve it. Our fathers play a wonderful role, too, but most often it is especially our mothers who exemplify the unconditional love that, our faith teaches us, comes ultimately from God. Thus, when our mothers die, it is as if part of our very core is being ripped out.”

Mingled together was joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, and even in times of grief there is much to celebrate. I am so grateful for so many things that I will share just a part of my list with you.  Perhaps you are thankful for these things, too: 

  1. I’m grateful for a Christian heritage that extends back generations.  My grandparents on both sides, my parents, my aunts and uncles  – they all knew the Lord and taught me how to love him, too.  From them I learned about the precious Word of God and why it mattered in my life.  I remember my Dad’s mother, my Grandmother, reading the Bible in her lap, in German, every morning.  What a treasured gift – to give a child the love of Jesus, and a love of the Bible, so I could grow up to know him, love him and serve him.
  • I am grateful that being a perfect mother is absolutely impossible.  I know, I’ve been there.  I think as parents we all have regrets and I wish I could do a “redo” of many experiences. Perhaps our society has erroneously created the perfect mother who would prepare meals that everybody loves, but which were also totally healthy, containing no harmful fats, sugars, or excessive calories. She would save us from all serious mistakes, but she would do so without being interfering or being irritating about it. Perfect mothers can resolve all conflicts, prevent all forms of sibling rivalry, and heal every hurt. And of course, the perfect mother would be able to be in two (or more) places at once. I am very glad that none of us is perfect! Our lives are not meant to be perfect; they are meant to be significant, and loving.
  • Thus, I am grateful for the mother’s love that is demonstrated in small, simple acts, every day. You don’t have to be a mother, or to have children around, to do little things for others that demonstrate a mother’s love – a phone call, a willing ear, a shoulder to cry on, a visit in person, a plate of cookies, mowing someone’s lawn or shoveling their sidewalk. And pray – we can all pray for the next generation!  Perhaps a mother’s or a grandmother’s most significant job is to pray for her family!

The relentless, patient care of a mother is illustrated in the person of Mary, Jesus’ own mother. In our four NT Gospels, the role of Mary is relatively brief. The writers do not tell us much about Mary herself, and she is not a dominant character.  I think it is fascinating to note that Jesus’ mother is mentioned by name only in Matthew, Mark and Luke.  The author of John’s Gospel does not mention her by name; she is referred to only as “woman” or “Jesus’ mother” (Jn 2:1, 3, 5, 12; 6:42; 19:25-27).

We do not have time to look carefully at the role of Mary, Jesus’ mother, in all four Gospels, so I will be brief. In Matthew and in Luke, we find Mary is most prominent in the narratives surrounding Jesus’ birth. Luke features her the most, where she accepts the role of being God’s obedient servant, and she seems to have an insight into God’s plan for saving all of humanity (Lk 1:46-55).  From the beginning, the mother of Jesus is “burdened,” as she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

Mark and John do not give us a birth narrative.  Mark provides the least amount of information about the women in Jesus’ life and ministry, while Luke provides the most.  In John 2, we see a conversation between Jesus and his mother that can be a bit troubling to the modern-day reader.  Here, Jesus refers to his mother as the “woman;” but, this is NOT a sign of disrespect. In their culture, it was common vernacular. The author is placing emphasis on Jesus’ own authority and responsibility for his mission. In other words, Jesus had “come of age” and was taking on full responsibility for the task of establishing his own ministry and mission. Hence, his mother’s role was changing. At the wedding at Cana (and the first of his “signs”), perhaps for the first time, Mary understood what her Son was called to do, and the destiny for which he had come. She was moving from his mother and protector, to his disciple (Jn 19:25-27; Acts 1:14).  

Just before the wedding story, at the end of the first chapter of John’s Gospel, we see Jesus calling his first disciples (1:37-51). Not all of “the Twelve” male disciples are named by John, as they are in the other Gospels. So, upon her own realization, his mother may have been his first female disciple quite early in his ministry.

In fact, there is a story in Matthew 12:46-50, where Jesus’ mother and brothers stood outside, listening to him speak, and wanted to speak to him. Jesus points to “his disciples” and said, “here are my mother and brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Most significant, for me, is the story in John 19:25-27.  Mary stands at the foot of the cross while Jesus is dying.  Her son is dying – on a cross!  Can you imagine??  From the cross, in his agony, he calls his mother “Dear woman,” and he entrusts the care of his mother to the unnamed disciple who is standing beside her.  Most likely, this is the author John himself, who took care of Mary for the rest of her life somewhere near the ancient city of Ephesus. Jesus is in great pain, and about to die, but he knows he must do one more thing – take care of his mother. 

Jesus’ mother always “took a back seat” to her Son.  Like the mother of a star athlete, she just stood on the sidelines, cheering for her Son. She knew that that was her job, her task, and her purpose in the “big plan” of God. She is the model of the strong woman who loves unconditionally and demonstrates her love for her children throughout her life. Her faithful submission to God, her presence, her love and care is what we imagine motherhood to be at its best, even today, and in our own experiences. 

I hope that we will remember to honor all of the women in our lives, not just on Mother’s Day, but every day. We need to express our love to those who have cared the most — our mothers, wives, sisters and friends. Thank all of these wonderful women who have made our lives better. Even after death, our mothers never cease to call us beyond our grief to lives based on undying patience, faith, hope, and love.

God bless you, everyone.

Author: Judy

Christian educator, writer, specializing in the New Testament

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