Sunday, April 7, 2013

How to Really Love Your Mother

(and everyone else for that matter)

At the age of 2, I'm all ready for Easter and posing with my Popa
In 48 years of listening to Easter sermons (48 give or take a few--I may not have always listened as a child, being more interested in the Easter eggs waiting for me at home and the new dress I was wearing at church) I've never heard a sermon on what to me is the most unbelievable part of the story.

Let me explain.

I don't have trouble believing the events of those 3 days in Jerusalem. Maybe growing up in the church, means, for me, that I take certain events as the gospel truth. Unlike Thomas, I do not doubt miracles.

What I don't get or more properly, what I don't understand, is Jesus' reaction to His mother. Do you remember His words?

"but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved
standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!”
And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."
~John 19:25-27 
It is believed that by the time of the Crucifixion, Mary was a widow. Without the help of her husband Joseph, she would be at the mercy of society. Was she illiterate? Did she have a vocation other than motherhood? What would she do to keep body and soul together? Like most women of her day, she was dependent first on her father, then her husband and finally, and hopefully, a son. With the imminent death of her first born son, she was without a provider.

Did you catch His words? This God-Man looked beyond His suffering and saw the needs of His mother. Jesus always put others first. He came to serve, not to be served.

How did He do this? How did He look beyond Himself? We see from the very beginning of His ministry that He was motivated by LOVE not self. And not an 'airy-fairy' kind of feel good, sentimental, sugary love.

His love was always practical. Jesus wanted to teach. The crowds wanted a show. They wanted a reason to go out into the countryside and maybe they wanted a zealot to take over. They wanted more than just words so the Word of Life, the Great Physician healed them:

"When he went ashore he saw a great crowd,
and he had compassion on them and healed their sick."
~Matthew 14:14

He saw their needs both spiritual and physical and met them both--sometimes all at once as with the man whose friends let him down through the roof. Jesus forgave his sins and healed his paralysis (Luke 5:17-26).

We are told that He:

"went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in
their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom
and healing every disease and every affliction.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd."
~Matthew 9:35,36

I must admit that I don't often put the needs of others first and so I am amazed at His words to His mother. Fulfilling God's command to "honour your father and mother" and following through on God's plan to take care of widows, as set out in the Levitical instructions, this good Jewish boy looks beyond Himself to the immediate and long term care needs of His mother and He does this from the cross.

His ministry is characterized by LOVE; divine love that is unconditional, lavish, free, sacrificial and without a beginning or an end.

We have the ability to love God's way with His help. We can ask Him to help us be 'rooted and established in love' (Ephesians 3?17)--love toward our mothers and fathers, our neighbours and in our ministry whether we are part of the professional clergy or a simply a saint in the laity.


Could we with ink the ocean fill 
and were the skies of parchment made,
Were ev'ry stalk on earth a quill 
and every man a scribe by trade
To write the LOVE of God above 
would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain 
the whole tho stretched from sky to sky.
~ Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, 
set to music by Frederick M. Lehman 
in the song "The Love of God



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