Mother’s Day, celebrated as a national holiday on the second Sunday in May, is more than an opportunity to remember mom with greeting cards, bouquets or cemetery visits. This week’s clergy discuss Mother’s Day sermons that touch on motherhood’s joys, sorrows, sacrifices and responsibilities.
The Rev. William F. Brisotti
Pastor emeritus, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Roman Catholic Church, Wyandanch
After wishing moms a “Happy Mother’s Day” and imparting a special blessing, I encourage a review of the origins of this day. Mother’s Day’s origins date to the Civil War period, when women in local communities wanted to unite families on both sides in reconciliation and urge new ways of conflict resolution.
Mothers have a profound role in the cycle of life, of birthing and nurturing new generations. In 1870 the suffragist, poet and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe wrote a “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” inviting mothers to unite in promoting world peace. She wrote, “Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, mother of five, school founder and educator of the young, who was born in New York City in 1774, stressed the need for humility and simplicity of life, to help ensure at least the basics for everyone. May we all grow in this spirit this Mother’s Day.
Rabbi Steven Moskowitz
Congregation L'Dor V'Dor in Oyster Bay
On Mother’s Day we honor the sacrifices mothers so often make for their children. For mothers fortunate enough to have carried a baby in their womb, these sacrifices should be self-evident. There are often months of discomfort and, of course, there is the pain of childbirth. Having witnessed my children’s births, my admiration for women and love for my wife, as well as for my mother and mother-in-law, remains immeasurable.
From those first moments of life, mothers nurture and teach their children. In the Jewish tradition, our central prayer, the Shema, speaks about teaching children. The Hebrew does not, however, use the typical word for "teach." Instead, the Hebrew is derived from the word meaning “to repeat.” I have often found this formulation puzzling. “Don’t forget to say, ‘thank you’ ” can become a tired phrase. However, the Hebrew points us toward a truth. No matter how many times a mother offers such advice, a child will only learn this lesson if it is modeled.
It's not about repetition, but learning by example. Children should not be told to be charitable. They must be shown. These are the sacrifices parents make on this day and every day.
The Rev. Marjorie E. Nunes
Senior pastor, Hicksville United Methodist Church
When Jesus was dying on the cross, he saw his mother and John, the disciple whom he loved, standing beside her. According to John 19:25-27, Jesus “said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”
I believe Jesus calls her “woman, not mother” not out of disrespect for his mother. But because "mother" would have been a cutting word to her because was already wounded with grief.
If you ask a mother the worst pain she has experienced, it would be the death of a child. No mother wants to bury a child!
Unfortunately, war and gun violence have taken the lives of many innocent children in cities throughout the United States, in countries around the world, and now in Ukraine. To those mothers who are grieving the loss of a child, our Lord Jesus, who comforted his mother, will comfort and sustain them.
Yet in the midst of all the pain and suffering, many mothers have the joy of raising their children to adulthood, and children have the pleasure of taking care of their beloved mothers.
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