4th Tuesday of Lent
Can a mother forget her infant and be without tenderness for the child of her womb? This is the prophet Isaiah – the same prophet who cried out Woe is me when he was transported to the courts of heaven and the foundations of the thresholds trembled as the angel cried out in worship to the Thrice Holy God. God as tender mother would still be a difficult pill to swallow in the dispensation that came from Mount Sinai with thunder, lightning, Mount Sinai covered with smoke, the people at the foot of the mountain, sternly warned not to even touch the mountain on pain of death.
God as tender mother – We have to wait for the gentler slopes of hills of Galilee for this to slowly register in our consciousness. In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son born of a woman. God’s son wrapped for nine months in the tenderness of a mother. God’s Son in childhood cared for by a mother – the care likened to by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to wild air, world mothering air nestling me everywhere. The author of grace Himself comes wrapped in the mantle of mother love.
What this means for us is the grace of Christ that reaches us is Marian. She holds high motherhood, says Hopkins towards all our ghostly good and plays in grace her part about man’s beating heart. The terrors of Sinai like the flaming sun would wither us away were it not modulated by the medium of the atmosphere. So it is with Mary, like the air everywhere, the glory does not blind but is fitted to our weak eyes. Grace that is stern as love should be yet is still sweet as only is possible with a mother’s correction. In Mary we see in the flesh, God’s tenderness as mother.
So Hopkins concludes his beautiful tribute to Our Lady with:
|Stir in my ears, speak there|
|Of God’s love, O live air,|
|Of patience, penance, prayer:|
|World-mothering air, air wild,|
|Wound with thee, in thee isled,|
|Fold home, fast fold thy child.
St Bernard put it more concisely – Respice Stellam, Voca Mariam – Look to the star, call on Mary.