It was of course Mothering Sunday. My daughter and family parked at the end of our drive, got out so we could see them, and we waved from the front door and conversed at a distance (preachers often have loud voices!). It was painful not to be able to give them a hug, hold them, and give them that reassurance we were solidly there for them.
Jesus words as he faced Jerusalem came into my mind:
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Looking to Jerusalem he says: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’Imagine the pain Jesus had when he was looking at his people, longing to hold them and protect them. But in his case it wasn’t the need for protection that kept them apart. The people were not willing. It was a choice they made, they simply did not want to know Jesus or put themselves under his wings - and rejected the love and compassion that was there for them.
Let us never distance ourselves from God and Jesus’ love at this time.
While it was painful for us in our family to be distanced from each other, it was through necessity and following good advice. But the pain Jesus knew was the pain of people deliberately distancing themselves from God’s love. How tragic that they were able to come close - but chose to absent themselves from a loving embrace. What a terrible pain Jesus suffered as a result of that.
Another person who suffered pain was Mary. When she and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple to celebrate his birth, Simeon took the baby in his arms and said to Mary: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Think what the cross meant to Mary. She had to watch her child in excruciating pain and could not touch him and reach out to him with a mother’s comfort. I have seen the great love and comfort conveyed in a mother’s touch for their child of any age, child or adult, in hospitals, and Mary was barred from doing this.
Pietà - Michelangelo (Juan M Romero / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0))
This is where faith discovers
the length to which Love goes;
this is where grief uncovers
the deepest truth Love knows.
Then see, through desolation,
how grief and joy are tuned
to rise in exultation
because of Love’s deep wound. (Singing the Faith 282)