May God Remember All Mothers in His Kingdom
[The above icon depicts Christ our God in the womb of the Virgin with St. Elizabeth bearing the glorious prophet and forerunner John the baptist in her womb]
Mother’s Day today, and all over the world children take the opportunity to remember and honor their mother. Yet there are also those who question the whole commercialization of the business of the adoption of the day as a ‘feast’, while others think that the state of motherhood is so sacred that every day of the year should be dedicated to it, rather than a single day.
For its part, the Church presents the person of the Mother of God (Theotokos) as the most outstanding of mothers and discreetly suggests the feast of the Reception of the Lord (2 February) as a day that could be set apart for us to honor mothers.
Within our tradition, we also encounter the Church itself as the mother who gives birth to us and gives us rebirth in Christ, also bringing us to salvation. This doesn’t mean, however, that there’s some kind of contradistinction: her restraint and obedience place the Theotokos at the center of the Church. John the Damascene says that the mystery of divine Dispensation finds its expression in her person. And her unconstrained acceptance of the divine will opened the way for us to return to the bosom of God. The Incarnation of the Divine Word, which took place in her womb, effected the union of the divine and the human. So the Church continues through history as a ‘continuous Mother of God’ (i.e. The Church continuously giving us rebirth in Christ).
The Theotokos is the eternal model of motherhood: she suffers with and feels the pain of every wounded person and is, at the same time, the refuge and consolation of all those in tribulation. The sorrowful image (Icon) of her as the sword penetrates her when she sees her Son suffering for the whole of humankind makes her the outstanding representative of mercy and loving-kindness. She’s the archetypal Mother, who suffers and cares for each and every one of her children, for the sorrow and injustice which hold sway over the world; she’s the continuous sigh for anguished people. In her person, mothers in particular find unique support and total understanding regarding their concerns about the future of their children and the world as a whole. As the poet says: ‘In wars, it’s the mothers who die…’.
This is why the Church’s attitude is to pay exceptional honor to the person of the mother.