In Catholic culture, we have a number of images symbolically associated with mothers and motherhood. Eve is called the mother of all the living; Mary is called the Mother of God; and the Church, through Baptism, is the mother of all Christians.
In a natural sense, we all experience, through our own birth, our mother’s motherhood. As a man, I will never experience another kind of motherhood so intimately; except now, I am blessed to observe in awe my wife each day. Every day, I watch her nurture and form my daughter into what we hope will be a mature, independent, happy, holy human being. My daughter may go on herself to become a mother. She will be called to the same beautiful and sacred vocation for her own children. From generation to generation, mothers bless children, in their image and likeness, with their love, devotion and sacrifice.
In a spiritual sense, we are blessed by another kind of motherhood. Christ, in union with His bride the Church, gives birth to us as adopted sons and daughters of God. We bear the image and likeness of Christ and His Church, just as we bear the image and likeness of our fathers and mothers. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were made in the image and likeness of God. But in the Fall, that image and likeness was disfigured and corrupted. Our ancestors, in the image and likeness of Adam and Eve, could hardly look at one another and still see the image and likeness of God or the beauty and goodness of our Creator. But, through the Church, Christ has remade humanity anew. He has and is conforming us into the fullness of the image and likeness of God. He is restoring what had been corrupted and disfigured through sin.
Unfortunately, though, sin still remains present throughout our society and the whole human race. Sin even seems pervasive among Christians and our Church leaders. Our own sin and the sin of others act like the grime on a cloudy lens. The cloudy lens prevents us from seeing God in ourselves and one another. But, despite this, we can still see a glimpse of God in the saints, the sons and daughters of the Church on their way to perfection. By saints, I don’t mean only the canonized ones, but the “saints” we share daily life with. On Mother’s Day, we highlight our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and spiritual mothers; the women who provide us with a glimpse of God through their love. Our own mothers, ideally, desire the same things for us that the Church does for her children. The Church yearns to give birth to sons and daughters who seek the truth and do the good and love the beautiful. The Church yearns for her children to desire what is good and to choose what is right for ourselves and others. The Church, like our mothers, yearns for her children to be at peace with God, with nature and with the people around us. What natural mother doesn’t want the same for her children?
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