“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John15:9-17).
The joyous words of Christ in today’s gospel reading greet us on this Mother’s Day.
We celebrate our mothers with over 21 billion dollars generated in revenue for greeting cards, flowers, dining at restaurants, and the myriad of saying some small thanks to those precious women who have “called us to life.”
For Hallmark Cards, this is the third most popular day (next to Christmas and Valentine’s Day) to “care enough to send the very best.”
I checked a sample of Mother’s Day greeting cards.
- “There is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one.”
- “Sooner or later, we all quote our mothers.”
- “‘ Mother’ (noun) One person who does the work of twenty for free.”
- “You know your life has changed when going to the grocery store by yourself is a vacation.”
Mother’s Day began in the United States as a result of the “activism” of women in the Civil War. Here, journalist and public speaker, Julia Ward Howe advanced the idea of a “Mothers Day” to honor the women, including her mother, who nursed Civil War wounded – sons, husbands, brothers. These women were the only recourse as “caregivers” in the aftermath of this deadly war.
Later in the early 20th century, another activist, Anna Jarvis, petitioned President Wilson to make “Mother’s Day” a national holiday. And in her case, she advanced the idea of the brave women who worked in public health and first-hand deadly combated diseases like the 1918 flu epidemic that cost the lives of countless children.
Interestingly, in the United Kingdom, the idea of “Mothering Day” took a different course. Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, so-call Laetare Sunday, this feast honors mothers but also requires a visit to that “mother church,” in one’s town – perhaps, the city’s cathedral; and to the very location of one’s baptism. With the baking of special cakes covered with marzipan – the visit to “Mum” is full recognition of one’s spiritual birth in waters of baptism – the very location for grace and family celebration.
Today, we are baptizing William Jacob Dahamer into his family of faith here at San Carlos Cathedral – with his mom and dad, Marta and Matt, and his sister Charlotte, age two.
Speaking of “all things royal,” take note, the name “Charlotte” was in the headlines this week in England.
So this is a day in time and a day of grace. This time of year is filled with grace-filled celebrations. Yesterday, I attended the first holy communion of second graders at the Santa Catalina School. Last week I presided at a wedding anniversary of friends of mine, surrounded by family and friends. There are graduations and high school/college reunions. These are all signs of vitality and growth, transitions, and accomplishments.
We celebrate Mother’s Day to honor women, and sometimes this is not limited to women who do the astonishing works of life and generative love: sometimes as single moms, working moms, caring for, and being “care-give” to their children, and older parents.
Today’s gospel speaks of “generative love,” and in the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke tells us that Peter put aside his fixed ways about the gentiles and opened the door to Cornelius, since “no one is unclean or unworthy” of God’s love, or ours for that matter.
In John’s gospel, we read: “Anyone who loves me and is true to my word, my Father will love him, and we will make a home with her or him.” Perhaps, we can say: “Wherever you are and whatever circumstances you live in, here in this spiritual home — the Father and I will dwell with you.”
John continues this theme in telling us: “I have told you this so that my joy may be with you, and your joy may be complete.”
Yes, it is this joy and blessing of this Mother’s Day that we celebrate with optimism for our children and all those who honor the baptism that brings us to new life, in Christ; and his mother Mary, and in May, we especially honor and praise her.
San Carlos Cathedral, Monterey, CA.