By Agatha Onyeneke
Every year in March or on a designated date thereabout, the International Community, and indeed the Catholic World View respectively, celebrate “Mother’s Day”, in all its glory, pomp and ceremony. Individuals, Organisations and families use the occasion to pour praises, and encomiums on mothers in thanks-giving to God for the gift of Motherhood and for the special and unique roles and positions mothers occupy in our families and the world at large. There is no gain-saying the fact that mothers are precious Jewels, and their pride of place in our lives is incontrovertibly irreplaceable. They are ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, ‘ from infancy through early childhood; they are the First Teachers of their children, also guiding them through maturation and adolescent period. Their active presence and involvement are visibly felt at every stage of their children’s climbing the ladder of life….Higher Institutions graduation, work, marriages, child-bearing; and even at Special Callings of their children, such as Priesthood and Religious life. Mothers remain relevant and constant as the “Morning Star” showing up alongside their husbands to fulfil their expeditious roles as the occasion demands.
They are indeed ‘Unsung Heroes’ in the lives and times of their children and families. More often than not, they are accorded special privileges and recognitions as “Mother of The Day”, “Mama Father/ Mama Sister.” They are also privileged guests in the homes of their children when they go for “Omugwo” for their daughters or daughters-in-law. In all these occasions, their joys know no bounds, but their pains and challenges, most times untold, are borne and endured with patience and utter resignation. This Reflection is more or less an ‘Exhortation’ to strengthen and encourage all mothers to keep faith alive as we journey through life. Motherhood is divine, a vocation and a life-long encounter. Not all journeys in life is smooth, and devoid of challenges.
Our Vocation as Christian Mothers is an enormous task that encompasses the life, times and destinies of people God has entrusted to our care …our husbands, children and a host of others that come into our lives one way or the other. It is the touchstone of our lives. Most times, in this complex situation, the challenges we face can be overwhelming, being in their very nature, often times, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, and peculiar. As the maxim goes, “To whom much is given, much is expected “. In all this, the Lord is our strength, as we take a cue from our Mother Mary, who had to face the greatest challenge of her life, when Angel Gabriel announced the seemingly impossible to her that she was to conceive a Son by the power of the Holy Spirit……” I am a Virgin,” Mary asked. “How then can this be?”, and the Angel replied at the end of the conversation “…For there is nothing that God cannot do” Mary’s response….”I am the Lord’s servant, may it happen to me as you have said.” Luke 1:34-38 demonstrates her innate consciousness and complete resignation and trust in the ability of God to do the impossible, and to fulfil His plans in her life.
As she followed her Son Jesus on His way to Calvary, and saw him die ignominiously on the Cross, her pain and Sorrow knew no bounds. Yet she kept hope and trust alive and she and her Son Jesus triumphed in the end. As mothers, we have different dispositions, and thereby respond to our individual challenges to the degree of God’s grace therein, and our personal perception and response to the reality of the situation and circumstance. Like our Mother Mary, we must put all our trust and hope in God, to do the impossible in our lives. What are the challenges confronting you as a Mother?
A terminal or protracted disease or illness? Difficult and at times uncompleted pregnancy? Long wait for the fruit of the womb? A broken home/marriage? Loss of a very dear one? A problematic and difficult child? Widowhood and its attendant loneliness, and unsupportive and overbearing family relations; unfulfilled desires and expectations in our lives or those of our loved ones; lack-lustre marital life and relationship? Loss of job, career prospects and heart- rending disappointments? Long waiting unmarried sons and daughters, and pre-occupation with particular unresolved problems and issues, among others? The list is endless… but these are all human problems and issues awaiting divine touch and intervention, though they are a constant threat to our peace and happiness.
But the Word of God states in Romans.8:35, 37…..”Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial or distress, or persecution, or hunger; or poverty; or nakedness; or danger; or the sword? Yet in all this, we are more than conquerors because of Him who has loved us.” Dear Mothers, has God given you His Word concerning your situation? Do you still have faith in God’s healing power over that sickness or condition that seemed to have defied all human solutions? Have we forgotten the numerous miracles Jesus performed as He walked and worked on our shores and the earth….among others, how He calmed the storm on the sea when His Disciples were about being drowned (Mark4:35- 41)? Do you still believe you can be a mother of children, as you recollect the Biblical story of Elizabeth and Zachariah, the parents of John the Baptist; Hannah the mother of Samuel, and a host of other miracle deliveries in our age and time?
What of Augustine, the problematic and wayward son of St Monica who later became not only a Bishop, but also a revered Saint and Doctor of the Church? Indeed, with God all things are possible. Our God is still the same today, and as of old … “Ancient of Days,” “Unchangeable God”! How can we lose sight of the numerous and countless miracles and blessings He has bestowed on us as mothers, in our individual families and homes? Whatever we have and whoever we have become today, are all manifestations of God’s goodness and mercy in our lives and families. We owe Him endless Praises and Thanksgiving for His Benevolence, Mercy and Blessings, in spite of our unworthiness. We must believe God for who He is, and for what He has done for us. As in Isaiah 25-1, 4, let us say to our God “I will praise thy name, for thou has done wonderful things…For thou has been a strength to the poor….a refuge from the storm.”
My dear people of God and mothers of our homes,” with God all things are possible.” In Jeremiah, 32:27, God is asking you… “Is there anything too hard for me”. He is also asking in Genesis 18:14… “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” In Matt. 19: 16-26, in the story of the rich young man who refused to abandon his wealth and follow Jesus, when the disciples questioned Jesus for His saying that it was more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than for a Carmel to pass through the eye of a needle. Jesus answered in Matt.19:26, “This is impossible for man, but for God everything is possible!”. In Jeremiah 33:3, the Lord says…..”Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.
” The above quoted Biblical passages are highly instructive and faith energising. When the situation seemed impossible and difficult for our Mother Mary, she said to the Angel… I am the Lord’s servant, may it be happen to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Even Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, after pleading to His Father to take away the Cross, submitted by saying…”Father, all things are possible for you, ……Yet not what I will, but what you want” (Mark 14:36). Our God tells us that whatever happens to us has His mark on it. Let us therefore like Mother Mary and Our Lord Jesus Christ, have absolute faith and trust in God’s Word. What He said is what He will do, as the Scripture teaches us in Proverbs.3:5…”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” Today as we are faced with unmitigated uncertainties all around us, dire insecurity to life and property; ravaging COVID- 19 pandemic and other underlying health issues; loss of jobs, bad governance, corruption and injustice in all facets of our national life; low morale and joblessness among the youths; abject poverty in the land and in families; dislocation of family life and all it stands for, Our Lord Jesus Christ and our Mother Mary are looking up to us as Mothers of our families and homes to be “Beacons” of Hope, Peace and Stability in our individual families, groups and the nation at large.
This can only be achieved through our relentless prayers, selfless love and sacrificial service to God and all living around us; living exemplary lives, and being our brothers’ keepers. Like mother Mary, let us submit and surrender to God’s will in everything, believing in His power and ability to do the impossible, and to calm the Storms in our lives, for “with Him all things are possible.” Concluding Prayer…. “.Dear God, we thank you for the great gift of Christian Motherhood and the great miracles and blessings you have bestowed upon our lives and those of our family members. We pray you God to bring calm to every storm in our lives and family members (name them in your heart). Lord Jesus, in the midst of daily trials, storms and challenges, we humbly pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, may we truly experience your peace, love and mercy….even in hardship…..even in sorrow…even in disappointments. Help us to trust fully in your power and omnipresence, never doubting, always trusting, and believing like Mother Mary did that with you all things are possible. Help us to take it ‘One Day’ at a Time, surrendering ourselves and families to your Holy Will in all situations and circumstances, to the greater glory of your name. Amen May God bless all Families and mothers of our homes.
• Mrs. Agatha Nnennaya Onyeneke is the Past Archdiocesan President and Vice President, Confraternity of Christian Mothers, Abuja and Lagos Archdioceses respectively.