HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY - Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
Fr Luke A Veronis
Happy Mother’s Day. And Christ is Risen!
When we think of Mothers, who is the greatest mother in history? Now some of you might say your own mother but as Christians we would point to the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, the Mother of God. She is a unique example which we lift up as the prime example of motherhood. I realize this may seem strange to lift her up on Mother’s Day, especially since she was definitely not a typical mother. She gave birth to a miraculous child, God Himself. She remained a virgin her entire life, before and after her birth. Holy Tradition says she did not suffer through her pregnancy and birth-giving, like women do, yet she suffered much as she watched the crucifixion of her own child Jesus.
Of course, Virgin Mary is not simply the Mother of God but is the Mother of all humanity, the new Eve, the Mother of each one of us. So, her position is unique. And yet, her love and compassion, her mercy and gracious spirit are a model to imitate for all mothers, and actually for all people, even though we all surely fall short of living up to her motherly example.
Today also happens to be the fourth Sunday after Pascha, which is known as the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, St. Fotini. The Gospel story highlights a very different mother – a broken, despised mother and woman who had five different husbands, someone ostracized from society as a disgrace, and yet after her encounter with Jesus Christ, she received His living water and found healing and a new beginning, a new life. She recovered from her lost, damaged life and became an exceptional woman, a witness of the Lord who ended her life with her children in glory! She would end her life in an extraordinary way as a mother, accepting and enduring martyrdom together with her sons, Victor and Joses. She encouraged her children, while they encouraged her, to stay faithful to the Risen Jesus even unto death!
I begin with these two very different and exceptional examples of motherhood to highlight that on Mother’s Day, we remember all mothers and acknowledge that not all may be picture perfect mothers. Mothers come in all forms and types. We all have a mother, and some may believe their mother the most special woman in our lives, while others may not have such a fond memory of their mother. We want to lift up today all our mothers, but we highlight how the best of mothers can be among the most selfless and sacrificial people we know.
There is the cute story of a boy in elementary school who was learning about fractions. The teacher said if a mother and father have three kids and the mother cuts up a pie and gives each person an equal piece of pie, how much of the pie will each person get? The little boy thought a little and then exclaimed one quarter of the pie. The teacher responded, “Johnny, think again. Your mom and dad and three kids make up five of you. How much of the pie would you get?” To which Johnny responded “one quarter.” The teacher said, “I don’t think you know your fractions.” But John answered, “I don’ think you know my mother. She would say she’s not hungry just so that the rest of us could get a bigger piece of the pie! That’s why we would each get one quarter of the pie!”
Mother’s Day is a day when we lift up and honor the mothers in our community – and in our Church Family we’ve just recently had six women became new mothers and Amber is waiting to give birth any day! But we also realize that there are many other women in our church who have not married, or who may not have been able to have children, as well as those who may have had a miscarriage or an abortion or who have lost a child. Mother’s Day can be a special day of celebration for many, while also a painful day of reminder for others. We acknowledge this reality and we thank God for all you women of our Church!
Of course, Mother’s Day is also a day I always want to lift up the “mother figures” in our Church, women who bless others. This includes all the women who offer motherly love as aunts, godmothers, sisters or special women who graciously share their motherly instincts with others. For most of the 18+ years my family has been in Webster, Faith and I haven’t had our mothers nearby, and yet we and our children have felt the motherly love of many women who have richly blessed our lives. And we are grateful to all of “mother figures” who bless the lives of others!
Motherhood, as an ideal, represents a spirit of selfless, sacrificial and unconditional love, of boundless and generous giving, of never-ending hope and belief in the goodness of others, and in a deep-rooted and eternal joy celebrating the lives of others. These characteristics are examples of what all of us can strive to imitate in our own lives, regardless of whether we actually are mothers or not.
When we see these virtues in our own mother, we thank God for having such special mothers. For mothers blessed with children, you can strive to cultivate and express these virtues in your own motherhood. And if you never will become actual physical mothers, you can still carry these Christ-centered virtues in your lives.
Of course, being an ideal mother is not easy. Raising children, whether young or grown up, and leading these children toward the kingdom of God is one of the hardest, most important, and valuable work that anyone can do. God knows all the unseen sacrifices and difficult struggles that mothers make and which He deeply values. Sometimes our culture praises what appears to be outward and visible even though a mother’s most important work is often hidden away in unseen moments of grace.
For all the mothers in our church, I want to tell you that we value you in your motherhood. Any crying baby in the church isn’t a distraction, it is a blessing that you are bringing the child to church and a reminder of how Jesus said, “Let the children come to me” as well as “the kingdom of God belongs to the child-like.
For all the young mothers in our church, we don’t need you to be involved in many ministry commitments because we realize you are nourishing the souls of your children and we pray and want to support you in raising up saints of the church.
For all the mothers of the church, in the every day mundane things you do, we remind you to lift them all up to God so that He can transform your ordinary, motherly task into extraordinary blessings.
May the senior ladies of the church walk with the younger mothers of the church and mentor them, offering wisdom and experience from your past. Take these younger moms under your wings and offer them a listening ear and a loving heart.
We thank God for all the mothers and the women in our Church Family. Let me conclude with a prayer for you:
O Lord, we celebrate our mothers and the mother figures in our lives and pray that all these special women may learn to love just like You love us. May they follow the example of the Virgin Mary as well as the example of Saint Fotini. Lord, You know what a special day this can be for many mothers, and yet what a difficult day it can be for others. You are aware of all that each person holds in their hearts. We thank you for Your love and grace, and pray that you have mercy on us all.
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