Today is Mother’s Day, a day when people in many countries around the world honor the mothers of their family and celebrate the loving bond between a mother and her children. On this day, we should also consider the spiritual dimensions of motherhood. To be a mother is to be like God, for God not only is our Father in heaven, but also our heavenly Mother.
The Bible is full of examples of the Divine Feminine, but most people think only of the male attributes of God, our Father, or the proverbial “Man Upstairs.” Without seeing God as our Heavenly Mother, mainstream Christians are missing an important part of the story. Today we celebrate Mother’s Day — and not only do we honor our human mothers, we give thanks and praise to our Mother in Heaven. We also tell the story of Pandita Ramabai, a Hindu woman who worked for equal rights for women and girls in India, and later became a Christian.
This week, on February 2, Christians celebrate Candlemas, commemorating the presentation of the infant Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem and the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to Jewish tradition, every firstborn son was to be consecrated to the Lord with a sacrifice of a pair of doves or young pigeons, and according to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’s parents followed this custom [Luke 2:22-24].
But the significance of Candlemas goes deeper than that. As it has developed in the Christian tradition, it is a day to reflect on the Divine Light that shines in Christ as the light of the world. On Candlemas, many Christians in both Catholic and Protestant churches bring candles to church to be blessed, and these blessed candles are used for the rest of the year, as a symbol and a reminder of Jesus who illuminates our hearts with the light of God.
In the midst of a dark winter, let us look to the light of Christ and find it shining within ourselves. This week, we celebrate the light of God that enlightens our world through Jesus Christ, and our calling to join Jesus in spreading the light through our own actions. We also recognize the important contributions of Barnabas, who worked with Paul to spread the faith as a devoted apostle.