12th January

Today’s gospel is Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cureJesusHealsLeper2 me’. Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery’. The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

This is one example among many of Jesus’ compassion for suffering humanity. Each time we tune into the news we see all too many examples of the lack of compassion in our world. Where do we learn compassion? One obvious source would be our mothers. This related article is from Pope Francis.

“Every human being owes his or her life to a mother, and almost always owes much of his or her subsequent existence, human and spiritual formation, to her”, affirmed the Pope. “However, although the mother is highly exalted from a symbolic point of view, she is listened to and helped very little in daily life, and her central role in society is not given much consideration. On the contrary, often the willingness of mothers to sacrifice themselves for their children is exploited in order to save on social expenditure”.

Even in the Christian community, the mother is not always given due consideration. “Yet at the centre of the life of the Church there is the Mother of Jesus. … It is necessary to better understand their daily struggle to be efficient at work and attentive and affectionate at home; we must better understand what they aspire to in order to express the best and most authentic results of their emancipation”.

Mothers are “the strongest antidote to individualism. … They are those who most hate war, which kills their children. They bear witness to the beauty of life. Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero said that mothers live a ‘maternal martyrdom’. In his homily at the funeral of a priest killed by death squads, he said, echoing Vatican Council II, ‘We must all be willing to die for our faith, even if the Lord does not grant us this honour… Giving life does not only mean being killed; giving life, having the spirit of martyrdom, is giving in duty, in silence, in prayer, in the honest fulfilment of one’s duty; in that silence of everyday life, giving life a little at a time. Yes, as it is given by a mother, who without fear, with the simplicity of maternal martyrdom, conceives a child in her womb, gives him life, nurses him, nurtures him and cares for him with affection. It is giving life. It is martyrdom’. Yes, being a mother does not mean merely bringing a child into the world, but it is also a choice of life, the decision to give life”.

“A society without mothers would be an inhuman society, as mothers always know how to show tenderness, devotion and moral strength, even in the moments of greatest difficulty. Mothers often also transmit the deepest sense of religious practice. … It is a message that mothers who believe know how to transmit without much explanation; this arrives later, but the seed of faith is planted in those first precious moments. Without mothers … faith would lose a good part of its simple, profound warmth”.