“Son, you are always with me” Luke 15:31
On this Mothering Sunday, the word “mama” gives an acronym to help people to remember four words from the story of the Prodigal Son: man, anything, music, and always.
The four words help thoughts about those who care for families.
Thinking about the letter “M” for man, there are the words from Saint Luke Chapter 15 Verse 11, “There was a man who had two sons.”
Jesus does not tell his listeners 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 man, 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 people 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 people read those Bible verses and not pause to give a single thought to the man? How often in everyday life do people stop to think about those who have cared for them?Sometimes, is there a failure even to notice they are there? Is it just assumed that things are done without asking what might happen if people were left by ourselves? The man who had two sons reminds those who hear this story of those that we should take no-one for granted.
“M” for man, “A” for “anything.”
Verse 13 says 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 Verse 16 is reached “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 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 life 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 says “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 says 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, is there thought about those who show love and care without ever worrying about the cost? Is there ever a moment to stop to think about how much has been given by those who have shown unconditional love and care?
The sound of music fills the air, generosity is like that, it changes the world in which people live. The word “music” is a reminder of those who have changed the world, those who have brought joy when nothing has been done to deserve it.
“M” for man, “A” for “anything,” “M” is for music, “A” is for “always.”
In Verse 31, the father, the gentle and kindly man rebukes his older son who has been angry at the reception his 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 love for those who have always shown love, and to be mindful that there are those who do not enjoy the family life most people take for granted.
Being thankful today for those who are like the father in the parable, those who have always cared, the best response is to remember that there are always others who need care.
Man, anything, music, and always: four words that can make Mothering Sunday a day for every day of the year.