“He that keepeth the law bringeth offerings enough: he that taketh heed to the commandment offereth a peace offering. He that requiteth a good turn offereth fine flour; and he that giveth alms sacrificeth praise. To depart from wickedness is a thing pleasing to the Lord; and to forsake unrighteousness is a propitiation. Thou shalt not appear empty before the Lord. For all these things [are to be done] because of the commandment. The offering of the righteous maketh the altar fat, and the sweet savour thereof is before the most High. The sacrifice of a just man is acceptable. and the memorial thereof shall never be forgotten. Give the Lord his honour with a good eye, and diminish not the first fruits of thine hands. In all thy gifts shew a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy tithes with gladness. Give unto the most High according as he hath enriched thee; and as thou hast gotten, give with a cheerful eye.” (Reference: Sirach 35: 1-10 )
Five years ago May 10th was Mother’s Day. And on that occasion I wrote a commentary that used the theme of Mother’s Day and the tradition of giving gifts to wives and mothers. This year Mother’s Day is on May 11th, one day later than 2009. So the timing is close – close enough I thought. Tomorrow I will bring more Mother’s Day greetings. Let us turn back the years to 2009 as I share with you what I wrote then. Shalom beloved!
It is Mother’s Day, and mothers of all ages and descriptions are receiving the gifts of Mother’s Day with joy and delight, whether feigned or genuine. Does that surprise you? There are some Mother’s Day gifts that are truly a joy to receive. And there are other gifts that we mothers receive with joy, not because of the gift but because of who the givers are. And Mother’s Day, rather than a day of rest for moms, can be on of the most draining days of the year. I think that is one of the best kept secrets of motherhood.
Now with that beginning, you may think the rest of my comments are directed at the gift givers, to make sure they give good gifts. Perhaps you entertain the notion that gift-giving to moms should be like honoring God. (Well, I have to admit that notion briefly crossed my mind!) But who I want to speak to actually is the readers who are mothers. Moms, I want to remind you that whatever your family, greeting card manufacturers, and other merchants may think, Mother’s Day is not really about what you might get. It is a day when your family will show, with varying degrees and varying amounts of success, how much they love you. And it behooves you as the fine caliber of mothers that you are, to receive the gifts with joy and delight. Because they all mean well. From the homemade gifts to the homemade breakfasts to the Mother’s buffet meals to the gifts wrapped with glittering paper that may containing glittering items, they all mean the same. They love you mom, and it would be intolerable to be without you. And God is looking down on you too, and the way you receive the gifts that you are given reflects the way God has spoken to your heart. And if the gift-giving is not what you hoped for, consider that to be a sacrifice to God.
The verses from Sirach speak of the heart and the intent of the one who is sacrificing. That is you moms. Let me re-word Sirach to show what I mean. “The ones who love mothers make many offerings; the mother who is loved heeds the commandments to love the gift-givers and makes an offering of well-being. The one who returns a kindness by accepting the gift gratefully lifts up a thanksgiving offering to God. To keep from wickedness (that is, to not disdain the gift) is pleasing to the Lord, and to allow your family to offer the gifts that they bring maybe an atonement for all the times you have been less loving and caring than you should. Do not appear ungrateful, for all that you offer to your family is in fulfillment of the commandment of love. [The following are some general comments on family.] The offering of the loving family enriches the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High. The sacrifices that families make for each other is acceptable, and it will never be forgotten. Be generous when you worship the Lord who has given you a loving family and the love of family, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands.”
There are some that may say that I am doing an injustice to Mother’s Day, that moms just don’t feel that way about their ‘special day’. Well, there are a lot of moms, and a lot of Mother’s Days in every family’s lifetime, and not all of them have been Hallmark moments. The ones that have been, thank God. And for the ones that have not been, give thanks for them too.
May your Mother’s Day be all that you have hoped for and more! Selah!