Mother’s Day reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Mothers’ Day. Reflection for 10th May 2020.

This is based on a reflection I wrote a year ago in San Antonio. I think it is still applicable and have made a few adaptations.

On 10th May we will celebrate Mother’s day. The commercial aspects which many of us like to thrash, actually do have their place as we owe it to our mothers to shower and even to lavish them with gifts. But there are also other important aspects which need to be reflected on. There are four levels of motherhood which need to considered.

Firstly, the biological level: This is how God intended the promise he made to Abraham to be fulfilled. When our mothers conceived, God raised them up to be his dialogue partners in bringing new life into the world. When they suffered for us, made sacrifices for us and endured pain on our behalf, they actually participated in the life of Christ because the pattern of his life was seen in theirs. I wish every mother a happy day – may your union with God through the gift of motherhood continue to give you strength. Closely associated with the care our biological mothers have given us, are those motherly persons who show care to us, sometimes even beyond the call of duty. And so we rejoice in the “relational” motherhood which is so life-giving. I think particularly of care givers in orphanages.

The second level is the consideration of the Church as mother. The Church is truly our mother, having given birth to us through the womb of the baptismal font and nourishing us on the breasts of the new and the old testaments. She pours oil on our wounds when we are ill and forgives us when we sin. She feeds us with the finest bread and gives us the best wine to drink. In short she cares for us from before birth (no abortion); until after death in her daily prayers for the dead – a thoroughly scriptural practice which many Christians seem to ignore. Right now she faces a crisis as many of her children are either directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19. We must pray for the Church that she fulfils her mission in the best way possible during this time of shutdown.

The third level considers the gift Jesus gave to his disciples from the Cross. In John’s gospel when Jesus was on the cross and seeing the disciple he loved, he said to his mother: ‘This is your son’ (John 19:26) and to his disciple he said: ‘This is your mother’ (John 19:27). The original text makes it clear that the mother-son relationship between Mary and the disciple is personal. In other words, Mary is truly the mother of the disciple and the disciple is truly the son of Mary. It is very interesting that the disciple is unnamed – meaning that he resembles every disciple of Jesus. John 19:27 makes it very clear that on that very day, the disciple took her into his home. Now we are all disciples of Jesus. The question is this: have we taken her home? How have we responded to the last words of the Master?

The fourth level of motherhood that we need to consider is that of mother earth. We have not only neglected this mother; we have actively abused her. It costs the earth to sustain us and we have choked it with plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. We have damaged the ecology to such an extent that life will not be sustainable in a few years. To the extent that we nurture this mother, she will in turn nurture us. This is urgent and we have no choice. We were created to be stewards of creation and thus far we have failed miserably.

I wish you a meaningful reflection on the biblical faith of the Church with respect to the gift of motherhood. LJC et MI.

+Sylvester David OMI
Cape Town

Posted in News & Events.


  1. Good afternoon Your Grace, Bishop Sylvester David.
    Thank you for these wonderful words of wisdom.
    Great to read this reflection on motherwood.
    This is especially touching to myself.
    As I grew up with my mothers twin sister, aunty Susan, since the age of 5years old.
    My mom was widowed very young with 5 children to raise.
    Yes, mothers that are able to take care and nurture another’s child is truly a remarkable woman of God. This is why I call my aunt Susan a saint, eventhough she did not often go to church; our other mother.
    She behaved like mother Mary to all of our family members that were in need.
    I used to attend daily Mass as a primary school student and pray to mother Mary but not us deeply as I do today.
    Some of us was in desperate need.
    Like my uncle William’s 2 daughters. He was seperated from his wife and my aunt raised them until they finished matric.
    Any one of the aunts that was in need used to come to her for assistance in any form she could help. Even my uncles used to visit her often and find solace in her peace home and her welcoming heartThe neighbours used to frquent our home for help., she was always there for everyone that seeked help in any form. Sometimes just to chat for a while.
    Our home was always filled with visitors and everyonecreceived her hospitality. Never leaving without drinking a cup of tea or eating lunch or dinner.
    Yes even to her neighbours near and far. Her door was always open to help someone in need.
    The church as our mother, yes most definitely, that is very true for me from a very young age.
    Every Sunday when I attended Holy Mass. I would go early to church and kneel.
    Thanking Our Lord God and then start praying for my mom and siblings that I could not see often growing up. Once avyear was a lot those years.
    Until I could own my own salary to visit my mom more often, monthly. Yes I found comfort in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
    Attending every Mass for me was giving me the the love of a mother I never physically eexperienced.
    Mother nature, my 4th mother.
    I always loved working in the garden from childhood days. I guese I found solace here in the loneliness that my heart was experiencing.
    I always enjoyed the sunshine on my face while weeding in between the ppants and watering the garden for hours.
    The joy of planting new seeds, watering them then seeing the first growth appear.
    I remember the carnations, how I would wonder at their many buds from one single stem.
    Sitting on the grass on a sunnny day. Whether it be in our own garden or in a big park which our elder cousins used to take us to on a Sunday afternoon.
    Trees, I always had this fascination with trees. They used to shelter us on a very hot sunny day after walking for hours in the sun. Or we would find shelter under them on a very rainy day and still have a distance before reaching home.
    Water, love of swimming in the local swimming pool. Only to realise thst as I am still experiencing healing. That those daily swimming sessions at the swimming pool was my comfort zone. Thinking back, that was how Jesus loved me so much to enable me to love nature and swimming and all these gifts he blessed me with to use my hands from a very young age. I suppose to keep me occupied but also to make me realise that I am worthy to be loved.
    Mother nature, the beach. After getting married my husband and myself will take every opportunity to take our young toddler to swim in the sparkinkling wonderful waters that used to wave over us.
    Those rolling waves was another gift of nature to console my aching heart unbeknowing to me those years.
    Until one day while attending a prayer encounter retreat. I chose to walk to the beach for my session of meditating on nature.
    I sat on the sand watching the still calm water across the sea. Then my focus came back to the shore on thee sand in front of me.
    A seagull stood and then moved in a clockwise circle looking around him.
    Then The Lord spoke to me. Why and what are you looking for? Why are you not focussed. You are distracted by many things. Focus on me.
    Wow that was a true lightbulb moment.
    I never experienced such a direct spiritual encounter with mother nature before.
    God was speaking to me through nature.
    Maybe I never heard the voice before as my mind was too cluttered before or not making time for silent prayer before.
    After that I sensed that even the trees have their way of communicating, whether its very windy or a soft gentle breeze just swiftly move the leaves like in a gentle swaying dance.
    Yes Mother nature has been and still is my mother, with the love of gardening being my solace all those years and still is today.
    God is grace, merciful, loving, gentle, caring, understanding, kind, caring and so compassionately understanding and forgiving. There is so much more words to describe God with this grateful heart of mine.
    God bless you Your grace for stirring my heart with this respond to your kind and caring words of encouragement for mothers.
    Forever grateful and humble in the presence of God.
    Yours in Christ
    Susan Hartzenberg

    • What an inspiring Mothers Day reflection relating an interesting analogy between such profound pillars of strength. Thank you so much and for all your inspiring reflections during this time. My prayers are with you always. Please keep me and my family in yours. Stay blessed, healthy and safe

  2. Thank you for those inspirational reflections on motherhood in the four contexts you define. I found those reflections particularly meaningful as will many others reading them. I send gratitude to you for caring for the spiritual and physical well-being of your flock so consistently and thoughtfully throughout this difficult time. May God shower you with blessings Bishop Sylvester.

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