By Fr. Glenn Jones
A very happy and blessed Mothers’ Day to all of you moms/grandmothers out there! A rather tough Mothers’ Day for you this year, I fear, as it’s likely that many of you are separated from children/grandchildren not only by miles, but in an abundance of caution over this COVID situation we’re stuck in. Like I’ve often seen on Facebook from older ladies over the last few weeks: “Call grandmothers away from their grandchildren … because we are NOT okay!!” Ah … the joy of grandparents—to spoil the little ones and to bask in their love. (“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…” Proverbs 17:6)
Many thanks, dear ladies, for your love and dedication toward your children … for the uncounted sacrifices made all during their lifetimes. “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is the first of the Ten Commandments directed at our actions toward our fellow Man, and thus the emphasis God places upon respect toward one’s parents. As St. Paul points out: “…this is the first commandment with a promise…‘that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.’” (Ephesians 6:2-3). Regardless of what faults that they may have (or that we erroneously perceive in them), we are bound to honor father and mother.
Mothers, of course, are highly regarded in scripture … Eve called the “mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20) … Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel … Jochebed (mother of Moses), Ruth and Hannah … to the New Testament and Elizabeth, Lois and Eunice, and so many others. And, of course, that most blessed of all mothers: Mary, the mother of Jesus. And so we do well to reflect today upon a few scriptures concerning parents and the honor due them:
The death of a mother even then was the greatest of losses, the deepest of sorrows compared to one who “…went about as one who laments his mother, bowed down and in mourning.” (Psalm 35:14)
- “Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father…” (Leviticus 19:3)
- “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and reject not your mother’s teaching…” (Proverbs 1:8)
- “…let her who bore you rejoice.” (Proverbs 23:25)
- “…do not neglect your mother. Honor her all the days of your life; do what is pleasing to her, and do not grieve her. Remember, my son, that she faced many dangers for you while you were yet unborn.” (Tobit 4:3-4)
- “…[God] confirmed the right of the mother over her sons…whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure.” (Sirach 3:2-4)
- “…it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.” (Sirach 3:11)
- “…do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; and what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?” (Sirach 7:27-28)
- “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1)
An instructive incident not to be overlooked is in 2 Kings, in which Solomon—described as the wisest of men and the most powerful of the kings of Israel—honors his own mother when she came to him: “…the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, ‘I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’” (1 Kings 2:19-20) If the wisest of men gave his own mother such honor, would we not do well to emulate it?
This is one reason why we Catholics and Orthodox and some Protestants honor (NOT worship!) Mary so much—the saint among saints … she who is “full of grace” or “favored one” (Luke 1:21), prepared and chosen by God to be the mother of His Son. If Solomon treated HIS mother with such honor and respect, with how much more respect and love would Jesus treat HIS mother … she who protected and nourished Him in infancy and childhood, whom Jesus would not deny (the Wedding at Cana story in John 2), and who followed Him faithfully all the way to the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27) … remaining with His apostles and disciples even after He had ascended. (Acts 1:14). She who echoed the Father Himself when, concerning Jesus, she instructs the servants—then, and now—“Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5) … just as she gave herself entirely to the will of God when the archangel came to her to announce the birth of Jesus from her: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38). Should we not honor her whom God Himself honors, for Jesus—as Man—is bound to follow the moral law (the Ten Commandments) He gave to Man … and, as God, would observe it perfectly. And Mary is then, now and forever, His mother—a model for all mothers, loving and caring for her child in joy and trial … and now one of the “great cloud of witnesses” to intercede with God for their brethren still “fighting the good fight.”
And so, dear mothers, have a blessed Mothers’ Day, and may God bless you and keep you close to His heart all the days of your lives … and forever.
If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Mother o’mine, O mother o’mine.
(Rudyard Kipling, Mother o’Mine)
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
(Anne Taylor, My Mother)
Rev. Glenn Jones is the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and former pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos.