The 4th Sunday in Lent is known by various titles; Refreshment Sunday, Laetare Sunday or Mothering Sunday. It marks a mid-point in the season of Lent, when fasting rules and Lenten disciplines are relaxed, so we can be refreshed when we take them up again! Words traditionally used in the Liturgy today, from the prophet Isaiah, encourage us to rejoice:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you, says the Lord: you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66.10,13
We give thanks today for our Holy Mother, the Church, and the spiritual Jerusalem; for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God; for all mothers, and for all who care for children. The flowers offered in many churches today are gifts from Mother Church.
The Christian tradition for today is therefore much richer and more inclusive than the commercial Mothers’ Day; (before the false idol Hallmark got involved, the origins of the secular Mother's Day are to be found in an anti-war movement by Mothers of American Soldiers in World War 1.) Today we pray also for those whose experience of motherhood is difficult, or for families and relationships that are broken or estranged. Our life in community as Christians reminds us that we are all children of one Heavenly Parent and Creator, the God and Father of us all.