Friday, May 6, 2016

Gospel text for Mother's Day, 8 May 2016

John 19.25-27       Meanwhile, standing near 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 beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Reflection   Although this text is not cited among today's lections it seems particularly relevant for Mother’s Day. Whether or not we are parents, we are faced with the inevitable experience of standing helplessly nearby and watching people in need; young or old, our child or others, people stumble, fall, end up in the ER, are victims of bullies, lose their soccer match, are not chosen for gymnastics team, cry all night in pain, fail the bar exam, are left by their lover, are diagnosed with a chronic disease, do the utterly unthinkable and dare to die in front of us. 

The thing we learn from Jesus’ mother and the other Mary's is, no matter what, we stay. We stay when we see someone carrying the cross of whatever challenge, disability or hardship life hands them. We stay, whether they are our own children or others, because we are sisters and brothers of Jesus, all one in the family of God. We stay because whether we are female or male, whether we have parented a child or not, we stay because we are all children of One God which makes us all mothers of each other.

It may take a moment for some of us to wrap our minds around the notion of being mothers. Perhaps a few Biblical references to God as mother will help. God is known as a mother eagle, “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.” God is compared to a nursing mother, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15). Lastly, Jesus tells a parable of God as a woman looking for her lost coin, “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ " (Luke 15:8-10)

The role of mother is not exclusive to female persons given to childbearing. Anyone who expresses compassion, kindness, guidance, protection, comfort, and unrelenting loyalty to another is mothering in the best sense of the word. From his cross Jesus called upon Mary to mother his beloved disciple even as he called upon his disciple to care for Mary as mother. That same charge echoes through the years, calling each of us, who are Jesus’ beloved disciples today, to search relentlessly for every lost or hurting child of God and comfort, care for, teach and encourage, protect and dignify them. 

When we look to the massive problems in our world it is easy to feel paralyzed thinking, “What can I possibly do to make this situation better.” But Jesus does not ask his disciple to change the world of violence in which they were steeped. He asked his disciple to take care of the one person standing next to him. That’s all. What if today we decided to do just that. Like the woman searching for her lost coin, search our community or neighborhoods to find the one person who needs our help and then, like the Mary’s standing at the foot of Jesus cross, stay with them no matter what.

A gift for all of us.... Brahms: German Requiem

While the death of his dear friend Robert Schumann provided an initial impetus for Brahms's German Requiem, the composer dedicated it to his mother, who died nine years later. The memory of Johanna Brahms is particularly apparent in the work’s fifth movement which takes Isaiah 66:13 for its text: “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”  Click on the image in the upper right area of this post to hear the full Requiem. 
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