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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

In the Heart of a Mother

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.

(1 Samuel 1:10 NKJV)

The second Sunday of May sees mother celebrations in many parts of the world. This tradition dates back to the 17th century. In England with Mothering Sunday: the children, away from their families to learn a trade or because they were forced into servitude, returned home for a day. In May 1870, in the United States Julia Ward Howe, a promoter of the abolition of slavery, proposed the institution of Mother's Day to reflect on the futility of war. Anna M. Jarvis, on the death of her mother, sent letters to several members of Congress, asking for a party to celebrate the mothers still alive. In May 1908, the first Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, Massachusetts, and in 1914 President Wilson established Mother's Day and it was decided to celebrate it on the second Sunday in May. Over time it has spread almost everywhere.

For the women of Israel, being a mother was the highest aspiration and full fulfillment. One of the greatest misfortunes that could happen to a Jewish woman was in fact being barren (Genesis 30:1), since God had promised that Israel would be numerous, this also motivated women. In Hebrew the word "mom" is "em", an imitative word, which recalls one of the first sounds made by a child. As a mother, it is not difficult for me to think of the figure of Hannah: a wife eager to experience motherhood and grant her beloved husband the fruit of her womb. With this desire she went to the temple to silently cry out to the only one who could fulfill it. In front of the altar she prayed without uttering words audible to the priest Eli. Anna was a woman who knew what she was doing. She had chosen to go to God, to open her heart to him by promising to give him back that child she was asking for. Anna will become Samuele's mother, the child entrusted to Eli's care and raised in the shadow of the Ark in the temple.

Only a woman can understand what it means to be a "mother", and how atrocious it is to deprive oneself of the fruit of one's womb, even though we sometimes read about rash acts. Under the rule of King Solomon, it happened one day that two mothers were competing for a child (1Kings 3:25-26). These two women, presented as "prostitutes", shared a flat and both had a baby. One night one of the children choked to death under the weight of their mother, who replaced him with that of her colleague. A dispute arose that forced them to turn to the king, who listened to the story proposed to cut the child in two and give one half each. This would have meant the death of the baby. The natural mother immediately gave up her part. She had the courage to give up the fruit of her womb to save his life. Only a mother's love can do this. Envy, selfishness and the instinct of possession do not belong to a real mother, who does not think of herself, of her own selfishness, of her self-love, but she only and exclusively thinks of the life of her child. Nothing will stop a mother from fighting for her child.

We remember the Sunamite that she received a son for Elisha's prayer, but that she soon lost him to a sudden illness. In the face of death she did not hesitate to claim divine intervention, which she was favorable to. Another woman, in Nain, had the grace to meet Jesus along the funeral procession of the child: she changed the destination and her tears changed into joy. Thinking of these mothers, my heart draws close to all those parents who are gritting their teeth over a disease, fighting for their baby's survival, or who, alas, are wiping away tears from watching him fly away. Despite everything, faith attests to us that God supervises from conception to the end. In the words addressed to Jeremiah (1:5) there is a divine will that transcends the sexuality of a man and a woman or any laboratory manipulation, and which the human mind cannot grasp. Behind the birth a divine work must be contemplated. Those who have survived an abortion or the result of a complicated pregnancy will have no difficulty in confirming that there is something extraordinary in the birth! Jeremiah perceives that it is God himself who called him into existence and that he knew him before gestation, having established a plan for him. Today it is difficult for many to affirm that life is linked to the will of God, and that it is essential to a mother and a father.

Looking at a mother's love, Scripture defines divine action several times (Isaiah 49:25; 66:13; Psalms 131) and in Proverbs 31 we encounter a series of praises to the mother, a shrewd woman: "The heart of her husband trust in her, and he will never lack provisions ”(v. 11); "She works joyfully with her own hands" (v. 13); “She gets up when it is still night, she distributes food to the family and her task serves her” (v. 15); "She sets her eyes on a field, and she buys it" (v. 16); “She feels that her work pays off” (v. 18); “She does not fear the snow for her family, because her whole family is dressed in wool” (v. 21); "Her husband is respected at the gates of the city" (v. 23); "Strength and dignity are her mantle, and she does not fear the future" (v. 25); "She supervises the progress of her house" (v. 27); "Her children rise and proclaim her blessed, and her husband praises her" (v. 28). And this is what every child and / or husband must do even today. A hug to those who no longer have a mother.

Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 20

May 10, 2 Kings 10-12; John 1: 29-51

May 11, 2 Kings 13-14; John 2

May 12, 2 Kings 15-16; John 3: 1-18

May 13, 2 Kings 17-18; John 3: 19-36

May 14, 2 Kings 19-21; John 4: 1-30

May 15, 2 Kings 22-23; John 4: 31-54


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