Well, a very happy and blessed Mothers’ Day to all of you mothers out there! Many thanks, dearest ladies, for the love and dedication you give to your children, and for the infinite sacrifices you make for their welfare and rearing. We Judeo-Christians always hold high in our memories that fourth Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12), and 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). 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)
Mothers are, of course, 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:
- “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 your father and mother be glad, 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)
- “For the Lord honored the father above the children, and He confirmed the right of the mother over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and whoever glorifies his mother is like one who lays up treasure.” (Sirach 3:2-4)
- “…a man’s glory comes from honoring his father, and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.” (Sirach 3:11)
- “With all your heart honor your father, and 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 informational note: the books of Tobit and Sirach quoted above are considered inspired scripture by Catholics and Orthodox Christians, but not by most Protestants … although Protestants do consider them to contain much wisdom nonetheless).
One quote that should in no way be overlooked is that in which Solomon, described as the wisest of men and the most powerful of the kings of Israel, honors his own mother thus: “…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 this is the honor the greatest and wisest of kings gave his mother, would we not do well to emulate it?
A mother’s love is blind, and never dies. In my last parish there was a prison nearby, and mothers would often come to me in tears, pleading that I understood of their sons: “He’s really a good boy!”… which recalls Kipling: “If I were hanged on the highest hill / Mother o’mine, O mother o’mine! / I know whose love would follow me still / Mother o’mine, O mother o’mine!” And the wise child might also quote that old Irish poem:
Sure I love the dear silver that shines in your hair,
And the brow that’s all furrowed, and wrinkled with care.
I kiss the dear fingers, so toilworn for me,
Oh, God bless you and keep you, Mother Machree.
And so, dear mothers—may God bless you and keep you close to His heart all the days of your lives … and forever.