"Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." Is. 49:15
Whenever we hear about a parent who seems to have forgotten or rejected a child it confuses us. How is this possible? Often enough, unfortunately, addictions can do this. Drugs, alcohol, gambling and so many other compulsions can rob us of common sense and, worse, compassion. Hearing about or encountering situations like this sickens us, not with judgment, but with sadness. The most important and foundational relationships we have flounder. Trust first weakens and then disappears altogether. It is an overwhelmingly painful situation when parents cannot trust their children and children do not trust their parents.
Isaiah, in trying to help us understand God's maternal love for us, goes even further. Even if it is possible for a new mother to push away her baby, God cannot and will not reject us. If we can ever let this striking and powerful image enter our hearts and spirits, life will be very different. All of us have secrets, compulsions or sins that we pray will never come to light. We are guilty and sometimes full of shame, and while this is understandable, we must pray for the grace to put aside the past no matter how dark it might be. Guilt slowly becomes self absorption and robs God of our love and fidelity. Guilt also so haunts us that we fail to live the gospel or reach out for others in need because we are so obsessed with our own faults.
Isaiah leaves no room for this kind of behavior. God loves us more than a mother loves her newborn. God wants to be near us and draw closer to us each day. In today's gospel Jesus insists, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life." Belief leads to life. Forever.
Today, be grateful for the God who loves us more than our own mothers.
How do you manage those days when you doubt your own goodness and God's love?