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The love of a mother – Mothering Sunday 2023
Despite all the hype and commercial sentimentalism we should remember where the inspiration for Mothering Sunday has come from – what this day stands for – what it means. For let us remember what motherhood truly is. It is one of the hardest and most responsible jobs of all. Perhaps we fail to recognise its true value because so much of the time is taken up with seemingly menial tasks. For in those small acts, and a million more besides, a child learns at first hand the Christ-like nature of self-giving love.
That is why Mothering Sunday should not just be a time when we give a card with a naff poem and a few flowers. Instead we should truly reflect on the love and devotion, the hope and the worry, the hard work and the simple joys, the soaring delight and desperate heartache, the fear and the heroism of motherhood.
Ultimate healing and love – Passion Sunday 2023
In the account of the raising of Lazarus of Bethany, we see the most dramatic of Jesus’ miracles – the ultimate healing and restoration of life and hope when all hope is lost.
But as John is dismissive of the naïve literalism of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and at times the disciples, so surely we cannot, should not, belittle this profound, poetic, carefully crafted text, redolent with images and myths from the ancient Hebrew past, by distorting, trivialising and constraining it within the narrow confines of literal fact. The truth is simply greater than that.
Where are our limits? – 3rd Sunday of Lent
Today’s gospel has two people encounter each other in the heat of the day, who would never normally speak. They were divided by culture, religion, taboos of purity, gender and morality. The misunderstandings and confusions are many, as they initially speak at complete cross-purposes; and yet, over time understanding, even some sense of communion is reached, boundaries are crossed, distance narrowed, barriers are breached.
Normally a Jewish Rabbi and a Samaritan woman would never speak, and particularly so when her own community considered her disreputable, to be shunned, a virtual outcast. To John’s listeners at the time a surprising, even shocking tale, as their own misunderstandings play into the unfolding encounter.
Are there parallels and lessons to be drawn in our own time – do we set limits to our own understanding and compassion?
Where does the wind blow? | 2nd Sunday of Lent 2023
One of the greatest contributions of Judaism to the world, among many others; the realisation that the divine is not fragmented, as the ancients supposed, either into spirits that inhabit the world, or into giant superhuman champions such as the Gods of Olympus. Instead, the divine, that which lies beneath, yet also beyond all reality, that which is greater than, more than, both above all and yet within all, is essentially one eternal unity, one unifying reality.
In the same way that the Old Testament story of Abraham serves as the example of unconditional acceptance and commitment, in today’s gospel Nicodemus provides an example of those who, however well-meaning, hold something back, who partially understand and only partially commit.
Nevertheless, John reports that Jesus attempts to build on Nicodemus’ partial understanding by asking him to look with fresh eyes, with a mind open and receptive, he is asking him to allow himself to be surprised. By the same token, can we trust, commit and take the leap of faith, can we allow ourselves and our lives to be changed, to be blown where the wind will take us?