Maa tujhe salaam

God cannot be everywhere; therefore, God created mothers,” says a Jewish proverb. Who among us has not savoured that godly experience of being carried, nursed, hugged and comforted either by our own mother or the many mother-figures who we variously call Ma, Ba, Mai, Mum, Mata, Amma, Mamma or Mummy? Come Sunday (May 12), celebrating Mothers’ Day, let’s be grateful to our mothers and rejoice in our universal capacity for mothering.
Our land is Bharat Mata, also called Mother Nature, globally. Out of Her womb spring fruit and vegetables, grain and eggs that nourish us. She brightens our days with sunshine and reverts to a starry “sleep mode” at sundown when our energy is spent. She produces bountiful food for all Her children’s need, not greed. It’s inhuman to privatise Her or to selfishly hoard Her harvests.
Matas are venerated in every limb of Bharat Mata: Durga, Kali, Amba, Khodiyar, Mavlima, Ellaiamma, Miriam, Mary and so on. Each of these tells tales of the maternal aspect of the Divine. While God is often described in masculine terms: Father, Creator, Protector and Warrior, God is also Mother, Sustainer, Comforter, Midwife and Nurse.
The Bible celebrates God’s mothering. God loves us like a mother who teaches her child to walk, kisses and feeds it (Hosea 11:3-4). God comforts us like a mother (Isaiah 66:13) and suffers for our iniquities like a woman at childbirth (Isaiah 42:14). God is compared to a midwife (Psalm 22:9-10). Indeed, God loves you “more than your own mother does” (Sirach 4:10).
Although Christians believe that God appeared among us in the person of Jesus, his actions and attitudes reveal a strong motherly streak: Serving food to his people, washing the feet of his disciples, weeping over the death of a friend, Lazarus, etc. In her “Revelations of Divine Love”, mystic Julian of Norwich describes Jesus as: “Our true mother, who is all love.”
The Church is also often described as “Mother Church” since Christians are expected to be nourished by the Bible and strengthened by the Church’s sanskaras (sacraments). It is normally our mothers who teach us to pray to God and lead us to mandirs, masjids and gurdwaras. Let’s thank God for the role that mothers have played in teaching us about God.
My mother is now frail and can no longer read, bathe and go out without assistance. But as I sometimes clasp her wrinkled hand and help her with the simplest of tasks, I sense her urging me, now, to be a mother. Mothering transcends age and gender. In a macho, violent and ruthless world, we are all called to be tender, caring and compassionate. A “mother world” is possible. May you and I bring it to birth.

Francis Gonsalves is the principal of the Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi. He can be contacted at fragons@gmail.com

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