This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and so we celebrate the special bond between mother and child. My two favorite mothers are Mary, mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, mother of St. John the Baptist.
When Mary is first visited by the angel Gabriel, he says to her, “Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28) Mary is greeted as such because she is the most blessed woman of all time. It is her calling to be the mother of Christ.
Mary is then told by Gabriel, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1: 30-32) Mary could have said no to this, but she was obedient. She had a deep faith in God; she willingly submitted to His plan and became the greatest mother.
Elizabeth had been barren, unable to conceive a child during her marriage to Zacharias, and was actually past child-bearing age when she conceived her son. Zacharias was a priest, and he was serving in the altar when the angel Gabriel came to him. He said, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard: and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.” (Luke 1:13) Zacharias doubted whether this could be possible, and for that he became unable to speak for the duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. When his son was born, Zacharias wrote the name “John,” and at that moment his voice returned.
Mary visited Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah while both were in their pregnancies, “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41) Two holy mothers, who were chosen by God to give us Jesus and St. John the Baptist, coming together at that moment must have been a very beautiful sight.
How do we honor our own mothers? I am blessed to still have my beautiful mother, Katherine. She is eighty-six years young and a loving, devoted mother to three daughters. She also has two grandchildren and one great grandchild. When I was a child, my mother nurtured us in all good things including Bible study, school work, and polite manners. These days, she needs assistance with shopping, laundry, errands, bill paying, and many other things. My sisters and I help her as often as we can, as a duty but also as a gift and repayment to her for many years of selfless devotion to us. It is an honor to help a mother who, for many years, cared for us and often placed our needs before her own.
God commands us to honor our mother. He values honoring parents enough to include it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) and again in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
I hope you will spend some special time with your mother this Sunday. If you cannot, consider “adopting” someone who can be your mother for the day. Perhaps a senior who needs a bit of attention, a godmother, aunt, or other mother figure in your life? Make someone’s Mother’s Day a bit more wonderful, just by spending some time with them.