Here are some thoughts from this morning’s sermon at St Chrysostom’s preached on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, aka Mothering Sunday by Rev Dr Kim Wasey
This morning, on this Mothering Sunday, I want to suggest three different ways we might reflect on Jesus’ role as a mother. The first is, Jesus as the one who brings to birth the Church – the community of faith on earth.
St John tells us that “one of the soldiers pierced [Jesus’] side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out”.
Thinking about the blood and water which flow from a mother’s body as she brings a new life into the world, Natalie Watson suggests that this passage in John’s gospel is “an image of birth, of new creation and new life amidst suffering.” She argues that “the church, the body of Christ in Eucharistic community, originates in Jesus’ act of giving birth …[and that is what we can] continue to celebrate in Communion.”
If we are recall Jesus’ death in the mass, then, by thinking of the cross in this way – as ‘birthing’ and ‘life-giving,’ then the sacrament we share here each week becomes an affirmation of our birth, our creation in Christ, and our community provides a special place for continuing the interplay between God and humans in this birthing process.
A second image of Christ as mother, comes from focusing on how Christ feeds us: as a mother feeds her child. The post communion prayer today begins “Loving God, as a mother feeds her children at the breast you feed us in this sacrament with the food and drink of eternal life”
Think too of the words spoken at the heart of the Mass:
This is my body given for you This is my blood shed for you
How true those words are for every mother.
The carrying of a child in pregnancy and the care, nurture and feeding, in the first few weeks and months of life are a deep living out of the words “this is my body given for you”. It’s especially resonant perhaps for those who breastfeed, and who experience the reality of one’s own body producing every drop that sustains the life of the infant and sacrifices its own needs to do so – perhaps for many months. I remember myself, thinking after 4 or 5 months of feeding Dominic, that bar the one single cell that helped conceive him, every atom of his body had come from my own body.
So, in the mass, Christ continues to feed and nurture us, as a mother to God’s children, and to say to us – This is my body given for you, Take, Eat, Be filled, Be loved, Be nurtured. For I give myself in love of you.
A third image of Christ as a mother is the embodied emotional, holistic commitment Christ gives.
It is not the biological impact alone which matters. For all those who nurture and mother, there is also the depth of the vulnerability and the pain that can be associated with the love of another human being, before or long beyond birth.
Jesus knew those depths of vulnerability and pain in his experience on the cross.
But Jesus also knew and lived, and on the cross brought to birth, that life and love which is stronger than death and which gives us the hope of life eternal, the hope and life we look for as we journey towards Easter.