One of the most powerful scenes in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” comes when Our Lord falls on His way to Calvary. The camera turns, and we see Our Lady. A brief flashback depicts the Blessed Mother comforting her Son after a childhood stumble. Now, with an aching heart, she runs to comfort her Son once more, but this time He lies crushed under the weight of the Cross.
This scene encapsulates the message of motherhood: “I am here, in the midst of all the pain and suffering; I am here and still full of love.” Motherhood is a gift from God. In it, God invites us to experience His tenderness – a tenderness that endures through our deepest heartaches.
Yet, as Mother’s Day approaches, we see many corporations sending “opt out of Mother’s Day” emails, while other brands choose to celebrate all women, even those who decide not to have children.
Instead of “opting out” or changing the meaning of the day, we should say “yes” to Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day commemorates a gift from God. It’s a day to celebrate the Blessed Mother as well as our own mothers and grandmothers.
While we may have mixed emotions surrounding this day, whether due to loss, infertility, or a challenging relationship with our mothers, it is important to remember that in honoring motherhood, we also recognize the pain of motherhood.
Yes, we need to accept the heartache along with the joy. This is part of the holy receptivity of motherhood and femininity.
Holy receptivity is scary. We see this in Mary’s Fiat. At the Presentation, Simeon cautioned Mary, “and you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lk 2:35). Instead of opting out, Mary kept these truths in her heart and continued to say “yes” to God.
Mary never ran from pain, nor did she try to take away her Son’s pain. She walked with Him to Calvary and stayed at the foot of the Cross.
Motherhood is a journey of death to self in which a woman gives up her body to shelter and nourish her child. It is a journey filled with complex emotions and even loss, but through it, God calls us to love, tenderness, and spiritual fruitfulness.
Society has emphasized the pain of motherhood as a reason for women to abdicate this God-given role and for the rest of us to opt out of honoring mothers. As Catholics, however, we need to remember that motherhood is a woman’s glory because it is through motherhood that God designed women to bring beauty and tenderness into the world. This points us to the powerful truth that things that are hard, scary, and even isolating can lead to great goodness and love.