“Son, you are always with me”Luke 15:31
On this Mothering Sunday, the word “mama” gives us an acronym to help us remember four words from the story: man, anything, music, and always. The four words help us think about those who care for us.
Thinking about the letter “M” for man, we think of the words from Saint Luke Chapter 15 Verse 11, “There was a man who had two sons.” Jesus does not tell us much about the man in the story, other than that he is a farmer who has worked hard, that he is a parent who has tried to do his best for his family. He seems a gentle, a soft hearted man, for he seems to give in easily to the demands of his younger son.
“A man who had two sons” reminds us of all those who have done their best for us without a moment’s hesitation, all those who have lived quiet and soft-hearted lives. How often might we read those Bible verses and not pause to give a single thought to the man? How often in our everyday lives do we stop to think about those who have cared for us? Sometimes, do we even fail to notice they are there? Do we just assume that things are done without asking what might happen if we were left by ourselves? The man who had two sons reminds us of those that we should take no-one for granted.
“M” for man, “A” for “anything.” Verse 13 tells us that “the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.” Listeners to the story would have known that it was not going to be a happy one, the young man’s money runs out, the country is hit by famine, and, by the time we reach Verse 16, “no one gave him anything.” All his hopes, all his ambitions, and he is so hungry he would have eaten the food that had been given to the pigs.
The young man is a warning to us about those who see life as only about money, those who think that everything has a price, those who think that even happiness is something that can be bought; when the money ran out, no-one gave him anything. Money cannot buy love, Mothering Sunday each year is a reminder of those things in life that are beyond price, those things that are beyond the purchasing power of anyone. The most precious things in our lives are those for which money is no use. The young man realises that home and family are more important than anything he can buy, in Verses 18-19, he says to himself, “I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'” Anything has to be better than the life he is living.
“M” for man, “A” for “anything,” “M” is for music. Of course the father will not take him on as a hired hand, Verse 20 tells us “while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” It is a day for celebration, a day for a party. Verse 25 tells us there was “music and dancing.” There is just a mood of sheer delight that the son is home again, delight that spreads like the sound of music.
The father has kept no count of the cost of his love for the son, on this Mothering Sunday, do we think about those who care for us without worrying about the cost? Do we ever stop to think about how much we have been given by those who have cared for us? The sound of music fills the air, generosity is like that, it changes the world in which we live. The word “music” reminds us of those who have changed our world, those who have brought us joy when we have done nothing to deserve it.
“M” for man, “A” for “anything,” “M” is for music “A” is for “always.” In Verse 31, Jesus rebukes the older brother who has been angry at the reception the younger brother has received, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Has the older son never realized what a blessing it has been for him to have a home and a family? Has he never realized that he has always had a life that the younger son had failed to appreciate?
On Mothering Sunday, there is an opportunity to show our love for those who have always loved us, and to be mindful that there are those who do not enjoy the family life we have. If we are thankful today for those who are like the father in the parable, those who have always cared for us, the best response is to remember that there are always others who need our care.
Man, anything, music, and always: four words that can make Mothering Sunday a day for every day of the year.