Happy Mother’s Day! I know that the days are blurring together for a lot of us these days, but hopefully everyone has remembered that today is Mother’s Day. If not, you still have time – we all have a great excuse for not going out and buying a card this year! (Note to my mom: I did remember to buy you a card. Hope it arrived there in time. Hope my sisters remembered, too. Happy Mother’s Day!) Even though we might not be able to celebrate the way we usually do, I hope we’re all still able to do something extra to honor the important mothers in our lives, especially those who are really missing their children and grandchildren these days. And we can still use this day to honor, remember and pray for the special mother figures in our lives who have died.
A couple of weeks ago I sat in on a meeting of the Surviving Divorce program. (Many thanks to Pam and Jane for keeping that going via Zoom, even after public gatherings were suspended.) One of the items that was on the agenda for the week was the image of the Church as our Mother. It occurred to me as we talked what an important image this is, and how easy it is to take this image for granted. There are many different images that help us understand our relationship with the Church. The Church is the sacramental presence of Jesus in the world. It’s the Mystical Body of Christ. It’s the unbroken continuation of the earthly ministry handed down from Jesus to His Apostles. And there are plenty of other images that help us understand and relate to the Church more fully. Some people also struggle with negative images of the Church, perhaps viewing it as a purely human institution that tells us what we should and should not do.
I think that this image of the Church as our Mother can be helpful to us on many levels. A mother’s love is consistently considered to be one of the most complete, dependable kinds of human love we can experience. (I know that there are people who’ve had more complicated relationships with their mothers, but I think we all have a sense of what that ideal is supposed to be.) That’s the kind of love that Jesus pours out to us through the Church. In the sacraments, He gives us experiences of intimacy with Him that are usually reserved for the people you love more than anything else. Through Church teachings, He invites us to know Him more deeply, and He guards us against sinful behavior that can derail our long-term happiness and wellbeing. Through our experience of Christian community within the Church, He shows us His love in a way we can see, hear and touch, through the love shown to us by our neighbor.
Who among us couldn’t use a mother’s love these days? In a time that can be isolating and stressful for so many people, we can still experience the dependable, perfect love of the Church every day, even when we’re not able to gather together physically. So, while you’re honoring your mother today, don’t forget to honor Mary, your Mother in Heaven, and to give thanks for the Church, our Mother here on earth.