Celebrating Motherhood

Reflections for contemplative living

As we celebrate the mothers in our life, we traditionally think of the women who have given birth or those who have adopted children. But today let’s also celebrate the mothers who have lost a child and who carry that burden, the ones who live in hope to one day have a child, and to those mothers who have given up a child for adoption.  Let’s also hold close, in prayer the women, who have made the decision to end a life.  The bonds of motherhood are never severed despite what we justify and try to normalize. 

The role of spiritual motherhood is a crucial role in our culture.  This act of service by women helps to shine a light on the feminine nature of God. We find this feminine nature in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, including references to God as a compassionate mother, a midwife, a woman in labor, and many more. She bakes bread to feed the hungry, shelters Her baby chicks, and nurses Her babies. Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century female theologian and saint wrote: “As truly as God is our Father, so truly God is our Mother.” In the 20th century, Blessed Pope John Paul I echoed Julian when he said, “God is our Father; even more God is our Mother.”

The Greek word for God’s Wisdom or Spirit is Sophia. Many early Christians spoke of the Holy Spirit as feminine and as our Mother. God our Mother is not a new concept, as scripture reveals.  Many early Christian texts refer to the Holy Spirit in particular as She. Many of the early church fathers spoke of God’s compassion in maternal terms. There are abundant scriptural references to the maternal, feminine aspects of divinity—we’ve just repressed them or overlooked them. Here are just a few: 

  • God is said to gather Her people like a mother hen gathers Her chicks under Her wings (Matt 23:37)
  • God is the rock that bore us (Dt. 32:18)
  • God is a woman in labor bringing forth a new creation (Is 42:14)
  • God is a compassionate mother (Jer 31:20)
  • God gives birth and nurses us at Her breast (Hosea 11:3–4 and Isaiah 49:15). In fact, one of the titles for God is “El Shaddai,” which can be translated as, “The Many- Breasted One,” a reference to God nourishing and sustaining Her people like a mother nursing her baby.

We can all shine the light of Christ through our love, birthing the divine presence in our world. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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