Around Mother’s Day, all of the card and flower commercials will say something to this effect: “Your mother was in labor with you for 2½ weeks, so now you should thank her by spending $19.95 on our Flowers-by-Mail.” They tell us that we should honor our moms at least once a year.
We all know that we should love and respect our moms. It’s cliché. But what does it really mean?
As Christians, we have the ultimate role model for how adults should treat our parents. We should love our moms the way that Jesus loves Mary. Look at the cross. Jesus was in excruciating pain, worse pain than anyone has ever felt, both mental and physical. What was he thinking about? He was concerned with the well-being of his mother, the woman who nursed Him, watched over Him, worried over Him when He was missing in Jerusalem. She agreed to become pregnant with Him even though she was unmarried. She felt the agony of every wound that He suffered. And Jesus knew all of this, so He told His beloved disciple, John, to take Mary into his home as his own mother.
If Jesus was thinking about Mary when He was dying on the cross, we should consider our mothers throughout our daily lives. Think of the sacrifices that our mothers made for us. Their very beings are poured out for us. Now, in the post Roe v. Wade era, we should all thank our mothers for merely giving birth to us.
A good mother will give and give and give, without wanting anything in return, except for her children to become holy adults. A true mother is the personification of Christian love.
As an example, my mom is an amazing person. She is basically a Donna Reed type, just with a backbone and without the pearls. She cooks like Paula Deen, jokes like Lucille Ball and prays like a saint. And this terrific woman, mother of four girls, spent her twenties and thirties changing diapers and cleaning up juice messes, taking us to doctor appointments and piano lessons, staying up with us when we were sick. Then she had to deal with the drama of four teenage girls. Now that I stay home with kids of my own, my mom is my friend who is always there for me – a shoulder to lean on, a voice of reason, and my very sanity at times.
But how often do I think to thank her? How often do I tell her that I appreciate the fact that she and my dad taught my three sisters and me about Jesus? Or that she homeschooled us before homeschooling was socially acceptable? Or that she slept a total of 5½ hours through the first six months of my life?
So, when someone gives you all of that love and makes all of those sacrifices, she deserves much more than one day a year. We should call our mothers and visit often. It seems like, at least in modern times, we think that we need to distance ourselves from our parents in pursuit of independence. But did Jesus do that? No, according to Scripture, Jesus and Mary stayed close, both in proximity and in spirit. We can, and should, stay close to our parents while living independent lives. Good mothers always placed priority on us, so we shouldn’t give them last priority now.
And, to some extent, we should obey their wishes. Look at the Wedding Feast at Cana. Mary asked Jesus – not only an adult, but also God Himself – to turn the water to wine. Jesus asked, almost in a riddle, “O woman, what have you to do with me?” (John 2:4). Then He proceeded to do exactly as she told Him. He obeyed His mother’s wishes, and this is when He performed His first public miracle, a significant point in His life and ministry.
If God Himself listened to His mother, what does that mean to us? While we aren’t bound to obey our parents once we are grown, we should consider their wishes. After all, they usually have our best interests in mind.
Then, as our parents age, we should make sure that they have proper care, as Jesus looked out for Mary. And when our mothers die, we should pray for their souls and have Masses said for them. Our duty as their daughters and sons is not complete until we die. After all, we can never repay our moms for carrying us, delivering us, and loving us throughout our lives.
As children, we understand that we should honor our mothers. Why do we think that this ends when we are grown? Our parents still deserve our respect and love, even more than when we were kids because kids cannot comprehend the sacrifices that our parents make for us every day.
And – while our moms aren’t exactly Mary and we certainly are not holy like Jesus – we should imitate the great love and respect that Jesus had for His mother. This is true at ages 2 and 52.
“Honor your father and mother… that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3).