“Thus says the LORD: Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad because of her all you who love her; exult, exult with her all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem, you shall find your comfort. When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants (Is 66:10-14).
I imagine that, like me, many of you smiled broadly at today’s first reading. The vibrant imagery that Isaiah uses to describe Jerusalem as a mother reminds me of what I spend so much time doing―cuddling my children in my lap, feeding them, loving them. I imagine most of us do this well past infancy, as the need for motherly embraces often extends into the time when our children hardly fit in our laps anymore. And who hasn’t, as an adult woman, wished to crawl back into our own mother’s lap? I know I have.
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”
It isn’t only Jerusalem who is like a mother to her people. God is also like a mother. It is easy to forget that, as Father, God also contains all that, in us, is our motherhood. There is nothing that is good and true in us which does not already exist in God. Our own motherhood is rooted in God alone. He comforts us just as we comfort our children. He will comfort us when we feel alone and lost. He will comfort us when we are heartsick and hungry for his love. When we feel unable to give all that motherhood requires of us, God will take us into his lap and give us the strength we need.
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to give my children what they need to grow to be virtuous men and women. Help me to be the mother they need. And when I feel hurt, lonely, dejected, and lost, help me feel the comfort of your embrace and the reassurance of your words. Amen.