The Fourth Sunday in Lent (Mothering Sunday) - Reflection

‘[Jesus] said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’’ John 19:26-27

Brothers and sisters, how well do you know your mum? Or perhaps a better question, how do you know children, or grandchildren? If I were to ask you to name their favourite food, their favourite film, or their favourite colour do you think you’d get it right?  It’s funny the things you do or don’t know about the people you love most isn’t it. You might not know the exact dates off by heart, you might not have memorised everything about them as if you’re going to have a test based on their lives, yet, you know them in the way that matters, in that place in your heart.

Many around the world would say that today is “Mother’s Day.” We call today Mother’s Day but the actual name for this day is “Mothering Sunday,” there is a difference. You see what people used to do for hundreds and hundreds of years on Mothering Sunday was they would go back to their ‘Mother Church’ to the place where they were baptised as little tiny babies, and they remember not just their mothers, but anyone who mothered them. Can you think of anyone who mothers you?

Of course, it’s not just mums who mother us, there are a great many people. In fact today is a good day to remember all those mothering figures; teachers, grandmas, neighbours, friends, who have taken the trouble to be like a mother to us. We remember the people who loved and cared for us since we were little babies, since we were baptised, many of us probably in this very Church. For most of us, though, the first person who comes to mind, quite rightly is our mothers. 

Some of you may not be able to tell me your mum’s exact birthday, others of you may not be able to tell me what the name of their first pet was, or even their favourite film, but they live in your heart forever, because they loved you, and today you express something of your love back to them.

Well the same was true, for Jesus. In our Gospel reading today we hear about Jesus on the cross. Jesus was really in a lot of pain, he was really, really hurting, but he looked out and saw His mum and, because she lived in a special place in His heart, He told John, his best friend, that it was His job to look after Mary, His mum, and to take her into his family. It’s astonishing when you think about it, Jesus on the cross caring about those who would be left behind. In our Gospel reading (John 19:26-27a) we read:

‘When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, 
he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’

Human relationships mattered to Jesus. He didn’t just do that because he wanted to make a deep theological point, He did it out of love for His mum and for His disciple. One of the very last things He does in life is to look after and love the one who loved Him. Human relationships mattered to Jesus and so they should do to us as well. Like Jesus we should take care of our mothers. But notice also that John is included and made a part of Jesus’ family. He becomes an adopted brother of Jesus by taking on Mary as His mother. Here is a deep theological point. Mary represents the Church, and John represents all those who trust Jesus. When we put our faith in Jesus we receive the Church as a mother. Which means, that all those who also trust Jesus, and therefore have the Church as their mother are our brothers and sisters. Christians look around you and you will see plenty of brothers and sisters, and Jesus wants us to take care of them too. To help each other to follow Jesus, and to care for our spiritual and physical needs.

So let’s think of some things we could do to show love to the people who have mothered us today, especially our mums. But also think about how we can help and encourage our Christian brothers and sisters. Why don’t you think to yourselves now, ‘What are some things we could do to show our mums we love them?’ and ‘What are some of the things we would do to show our Christian brothers and sisters we love them?”

I think maybe we could all do those things today, on Mothering Sunday, we can show our mothers that we love them by doing those things; and then we can think about how we might show our brothers and sisters in Christ the same sort of love. Whether in this country or those who are far away.

Like Jesus cared about human relationships and like he spent his last moments looking after his mum and his best mate, so too are we called to care for those who have cared for us and to show them our love, today. Amen (from Fr Jordan).