Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mothers, mountains and molehills

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the fourth Sunday in Lent

Today is Laetare Sunday. As you know Laetare means “Rejoice!” The odd thing is that it always falls I Lent, which is hardly the most joyful season, yet we find ourselves being told to rejoice. Doesn’t that sound like a contradiction?


Today is also Mothering Sunday which always coincides with Mothers’ Day, though the two are different. It’s a day when we remember our mothers. That’s all well and good, but it’s hard to do when you’ve lost your mother. How can people who have no mothers, or have difficult family relationships rejoice in Mothering Sunday or Mothers’ day? It’s the same problem when we get to Fathers’ Day. How can we celebrate if our family is not a happy place, or if we have lost people we love?

It all sounds a bit glib, a bit of lip-service.

How can we rejoice?


Our walk through Lent brings us into the examination of what tempts us. Remember, the Devil like to tempt us to break as many of the Ten Commandments that we can. This includes the fifth commandment “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Again, this is hard to do if our families are difficult people to be with. Yet, certainly we would see the fifth commandment to be a struggle which we would strive at, but surely celebrating it in these circumstances would be impossible.

The fifth commandment is essentially to ensure that we provide for our parents in their old age and to look after them when they fall ill. That way we can expect to be treated the same by our children. For some people this is not an issue, and looking after an aged parent is difficult at times, but not unpleasant. For other people, though, relationships with parents can be very hard, and the temptation is to leave them to their own devices by cutting the family tie. For many such people, that solves the problem.

However, God presents us with a bit of a challenge. Even if we have the worst possible relationship with our parents as we possibly can, the fifth commandment still applies. How can we honour our parents then? That’s too hard!


We are presented with the feeding of the Five Thousand. Jesus Himself asks, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” And poor Philip has not a clue! “Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” Yet from the tiny, tiny offering of a boy’s meal, God makes so much. All that needed to happen was for that tiny meal to be offered to God for the five thousand to be fed.

Notice that we do not know how Our Lord fed the five thousand: that is hidden from our view. Yet, they were fed. If we struggle with relationships with our parents, or even with someone else, we have to offer what little we can and then pray to God to take what we offer and let it grow. Even if it is only a little kindness that we can offer in situations of great difficulty, that kindness is out there for God to take and grow. If we don’t offer anything, then nothing can grow.

Lent teaches us to find little things to rejoice in and that joy is always there for us to find. The temptation we face is to do nothing at all to make rejoicing or healing possible. If we resist this temptation, God can make a mountain out of a molehill in the best way possible!

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