Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen!

Mother’s Day is usually a time synonymous with gratitude. It is a day filled with a deluge of homemade cards from children, sumptuous Sunday brunches, and receiving the royal treatment. While the expressions of gratitude may differ, the underlying sentiment remains the same: a sincere and heartfelt, “thank you.”

While Mother’s Day may be one day a year intentionally set aside as a time for showering our moms with much deserved gratitude, it is important  to consider how conscientious we are of saying “thank you” throughout the remaining 364 days.

In the Gospel of Luke 17:12-19, ten men came before Jesus with the hope of being healed. While Christ faithfully provided for all ten men, and each of them walked away cleansed, sadly, only one turned back to praise God and offer thanksgiving to Jesus for his miraculous healing.

At one time or another, each of us, perhaps most especially the mothers among us, feel the sting of being underappreciated, undervalued, or overlooked. In these moments it is important to remember that we are not alone. The narratives of the Gospel remind us that people responded to Christ in many ways, but sheer gratitude was not always one of them. We rarely think of Christ as someone whose efforts go unnoticed, but that is exactly what took place in Saint Luke’s retelling of this event.

Consider the following: if someone were to surprise us with a gift, we in return would naturally be grateful. However, if someone surprised us with the same gift every day for a week, would we be seven times more grateful, or would the initial surge of gratitude begin to wear off? Now let us apply this same question to the average overworked mother and her daily gifts of crafting local, organic, home-cooked meals, being a personal chauffeur to her kids, planning birthday parties and play dates, and volunteering for school functions, all while maintaining her own composure and appearance. Like the nine men who left Christ without saying thank you, if we do not pay attention, being on the receiving end of daily gifts can lead us from being grateful recipients to overly-familiarized takers.

Once, after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers traversed the mountain to assess the fire’s damage. One ranger found a bird petrified in ashes, perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Curiously nudging the bird with a stick, the petrified ash broke apart and revealed three tiny, living chicks under their mother's wings. The loving mother, aware of the impending danger, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the smoke would rise. She could have saved herself and flown to safety but instead remained with her babies; willing to give herself up in the fire, so those under the cover of her wings may be saved.

Not only is this a striking reflection of the self-sacrificing love which Jesus, our mothers, and all our loved ones selflessly pour out on us, but it is a powerful reminder that a mother’s love, like Christ Himself, is never withholding, nor does it place conditions, or show exception, regardless of those who express gratitude and those who may not.

Not every day can be filled with lavish gifts, breakfast in bed, and elegant floral arrangements. In fact, one Mother’s Day survey showed that nine out of ten mothers would prefer a phone call from their kids more than anything else. But for the remaining 364 days of the year, if at any point your earnest efforts are unnoticed or undervalued, take heart in this passage from Saint Luke and consider the occasion as nothing short of a rung on a ladder, bringing us one step closer to imitating Christ.

To all the mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, caregivers, and all those diligently working to raising and teaching our youth, may this Mother’s Day be filled with joy, warmth, gratitude, and love.

Happy Mother’s Day!