It seems as though circumstances have somewhat overtaken us this week. We are in a situation where, at the beginning of the week, we had a feeling of unease and this has developed with a rapidity that is alarming into a situation that none of us have experience of and as such, no idea how to navigate. We are very much in uncharted territory. As a clear example of this we here at St. Laurence church are embracing technology in a way that we would not have thought possible or desirable even a week ago.
But I feel that it is very important that we maintain a sense of perspective. As the news reports of empty supermarket shelves have shown, the way that we react to this situation can be almost as damaging as the virus itself if we give in to fear. What we mustn’t allow ourselves to do is to over-react to the events and the uncertainty that are unfolding. We need to maintain a balance between acknowledging the severity of the situation without it spilling over into selfishness and self-interest, and when it all gets too much, we will offer it up to God.
And in the midst of all of this turmoil, (and you would be forgiven if it had slipped your mind), today is the day when we celebrate Mothering Sunday. The day when our thoughts inevitably turn to family and those that we love. We acknowledge that this can be a time that can be both a source of great joy or of sadness and these feelings will be focussed through the prism of our worries and concerns for those that we love, care and pray for.
We have much to learn from the example between Jesus and his mother in today’s Gospel reading. Mary’s fidelity and loyalty to her son shines through. Her love is unwavering, it is resolute and it is steadfast. Regardless of all the things that she had to witness, of all the things that she and those around her went through, she never faltered. When others ran away and hid, thinking only of themselves, she was there by His side. She didn’t always understand what was going on, (I mean, how could she?) but she did understand that the best way to carry on and get things done was for people to come to the realisation of who Jesus is and to pick up their cross and follow him.
The commandment that Jesus gives Mary is one that we should all be mindful of at the moment. At the hour of his death, Jesus entrusts Mary to the care of, “the disciple whom he loved”. That disciple, who many believe to be John himself, took Mary in, took responsibility for her and looked after her as though she was his own mother. Now is the time for us to do something similar. Now is the time for us to emulate the Blessed Mother of God and the disciple whom Jesus loved. We need to follow their shining example, to step up and look after each other.
History is defined in these moments. Our relationships will be a legacy that lasts, on how we look after one another, on what we do to love and support each other. It is easy to do that when the going is good, but in these darkened times there is more reason than ever for acting as a mother by “clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.”
Christ used the word ‘woman’ here just as he used it at the beginning of his ministry at the wedding at Cana. He used it at his Alpha and his Omega. The beginning and the end. His tender compassion circles everything, it encompasses it all, no amount of suffering can extinguish his capacity for love, that will always triumph. So let us embrace this chance to emulate it and look after each other.