In Chapter Ten of his Gospel Jesus told us two distinct parables which we should keep separate.
In the more familiar one, Jesus compared himself to a good shepherd who knows each of his sheep through and through. He feeds each of them, and cares for them when they are sick. He searches for them when they are lost.
In the second parable Jesus compared himself to the sheepfold’s gatekeeper. In that role Jesus protects us from those who would lead us astray.
On this Mothers’ Day we can reflect on how our mothers stand in for Jesus. They have been the good shepherds who saw that we were well fed, and who bandaged our wounds. They have been the gatekeepers who have protected us from the evil influences that would have made our lives miserable.
Please put up with me, as I mention a scattering of thoughts that have come to me as we approached this Mother’s Day.
This is so obvious that its silly of me to even bring it up, but I got thinking of how each child was a physical part of its mother for nine month, The child might forget that, but the mother never can.
This week a memory came to me out of the blue. I was ten years old, and our class was sitting in church. We were halfway back, with the first three grades in the pews I front of us. Suddenly an unusual thought came to me. I realized that there would come a time when I would no longer have a mother. I couldn’t imagine how I could ever get by on my own.
I mentioned that to Kate Fetzer, and she told me she was already a grandmother many times over when her mother died at ninety-seven, but still it pained Kate to be left an orphan.
Another fresh idea about motherhood came to me from a book I have been reading. It is an autobiography of Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts. She wrote about how she doted on her daughter, and how it was most painful when Amelia at thirteen fought her off. She was ever so happy when Amelia, nearing thirty, came back with more love than ever.
But what really touched me in Elizabeth’s book were the feelings she had for her grandchild. The child was the greatest love of her life. When the house was asleep Elizabeth would scoop up Lavinia, and cuddle her in their old rocking chair. The child didn’t need it, but Elizabeth did. That taught me that on Mother’s Day we should doubly honor grandmothers.