Of course, in any normal year we would be celebrating the fact that today is Mothering Sunday in church. Our morning services would be happy occasions where we present posies of flowers and give thanks for the ways in which we have experienced love, and care and the nurture of family.
This time round we have very quickly learnt that it is no normal year and these days in which we find ourselves are not normal times. It is as if a cloud ominously hangs over us all -- a cloud of anxiety and uncertainty.
I have always been conscious that Mothering Sunday is a somewhat sensitive day for, in the midst of all the thanksgiving and celebrations that take place, many people for a variety of reasons find it a struggle. Indeed, it is a difficult day for some with a cloud hanging over all that is going on.
Reflecting on Mothering Sunday in these unprecedented times I was reminded of how Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the midst of times of celebration and thanksgiving experiences an ominous cloud hanging over her.
In Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus, (2:11) we are reminded of how "they (the wise men) knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
I wonder, when handed the myrrh whether Mary's blood ran cold, or it felt to her as if someone had walked over her grave? For that ointment, which was symbolic of anointing the body of the dead, was a nod to what lay ahead for her infant son.
In Luke 2:34 Jesus, as was the practice, was presented in the temple. Here Simeon recognising who this was declared to Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
Once again, in the midst of thanksgiving that ominous cloud of foreboding hangs over that tableaux.
Today, we still rightly celebrate Mothering Sunday, albeit in different ways than we have been used to. Alongside cards that have already been posted, phone calls will be made and modern technology gives us the possibility to see those we love even though they may be living on the other side of the world, or just around the corner but in self isolation or in lock down in care and nursing homes.
We are at this time understandably anxious and worried for our loved ones, for ourselves and for all that will happen in the coming weeks. That cloud looms over us all.
Yet, we are also people of faith. I say that not glibly but as a profound reminder of who we are.
In the midst of this global pandemic, we are still called to proclaim the good news and to take care of our neighbours and to be as light and salt and to show love.
For at the heart of our faith and all that we hold to is love, hope and trust.
We take comfort from the fact that Mary, the one who gave birth to Jesus, experienced that cloud resting on her; as too, of course, did Jesus himself.
St. Paul, himself no stranger to the shadows of cloud, confidently proclaimed that he was "convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (8:38-39)
May we know that truth for ourselves not only this day but on all those days when we experience that cloud of anxiety and uncertainty.
With love and God bless