Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go; your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

– Ruth 1:16

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Χριστος Ανέστι! Christ is Risen!

The words above were spoken by the holy foremother Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David, an ancestor of the Lord, whom we read about in the genealogy of Jesus to begin the New Testament.  In the book of Ruth, we read that Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, wished to return to Bethlehem and her own people after the death of her husband and two sons.

Despite being heavily stricken with grief and insisting her two daughters-in-law turn back to their own villages, Ruth emphatically says that she will never leave her mother-in-law, affirming that “Your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.”  Ruth’s words express the love of a child towards a mother, despite the fact that Naomi was her husband’s mother, and not her own.  The Scriptures do not mention Ruth’s biological mother or whether she was living or not, but Ruth treats Naomi as if she were her own.

Each year on the second Sunday of May, Americans celebrate motherhood, and our parish puts on an amazing celebration honoring the mothers of our own community.  When we consider the amazing contributions to our own lives that our mothers have made, we also consider the amazing role our mothers play in our spirituality, whether they be our mother, grandmother, godmother, aunt, older sister, or someone else.  While this is very true, let us remember that we also have another mother who nurtures and embraces us in every moment of our lives and in every situation.  That mother is the Church, Herself.

As Orthodox Christians we believe that the Church is the Body of Christ, and we are all members of it.  We also attach many other terms to the Church, not the least of which is our Mother.  We believe this because the Church is here for us when we are born- there is a prayer for the birth of a child and another prayer for the naming of a child; there is a prayer for the dedication of a child at 40 days; there is the service of baptism, holy communion, confession, unction, holy water, and many others to help us through our lives and difficult times.  The Church marries us and buries us.  The Church, as our mother, is there for us when our own children are born and raised.  Whenever we need anything, the Lord is there for us in every way no matter what we may need, and this manifests itself sacramentally through the Church as well.  Like any mother, the Church feels our pain and our joy, and desires nothing more than unity with each of us in our own lives.

This Mother’s Day, as we celebrate all our mothers- those who are still with us on this side of the Kingdom, as well as those who have departed- let us remember that the Lord, through His Church, wants to be with us as well.  Our Mother wants to embrace us in her tender care.  In her infinite love and compassion for us, let us allow her to do so.

Χριστος Ανέστι! Christ is Risen!
With love in the Risen Lord,

FRNiko

Father Niko Bekris
Proestamenos

Scenes from Holy Friday