There are times when it can be very hard indeed to see the Church as our mother. The abuse scandals, the apparent harshness of some of her judgements, the inadequacy or incompetence of some her members, all conspire to make it difficult. But the lyricism of today’s liturgy reflects a profound truth. As Christians, born again of water and the Holy Spirit, the Church is truly our mother, nourishing us, nurturing us, setting us on the way to salvation. Teilhard de Chardin once remarked of the Church that it was like a mist surrounding the light, both revealing and concealing. There is only one way to reach the light itself, and that is by going through the mist.
Julian of Norwich wrote beautifully of the motherhood of God:
In our creation God Almighty is our natural father, and God all-wisdom is our natural mother, with the love and goodness of the Holy Spirit. These are all one God, one Lord. . . . The Second Person of the Trinity is our mother in nature, in our substantial making. In him we are grounded and rooted, and he is our mother by mercy in our sensuality, by taking flesh. Thus our mother, Christ, in whom our parts are kept unseparated, works in us in various ways. For in our mother, Christ, we profit and increase, and in mercy he reforms and restores us, and by virtue of his passion, death, and resurrection joins us to our substance. This is how our mother, Christ, works in mercy in all his beloved children who are submissive and obedient to him . . .
Christ our Lord is so ‘oned’ to the Church that his motherhood is now hers, just as his mother Mary is now ours also. That is a heartening thought, and hopefully an encouragement to all mothers* for whom this is not just Mothering Sunday but Mother’s Day as well.
*Our Facebook page contains our prayer intention for today which embraces all mothers, living and dead, and those who grieve because the gift of motherhood is not theirs.