ColumnsNaming Grace

Oceans of tears

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Two heartbroken mothers. Two beloved sons. One merciful God. We can only imagine the buckets of tears the two mothers in this Sunday’s readings cried over the death of their sons.

In the first reading, Elijah begs for the life of the widow’s son, and the LORD listens and returns the child’s “life breath.” In the Gospel, moved with pity for the grieving mother, Jesus extends comfort, “Do not weep.” He then touches the coffin and releases her son from the grips of death, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” Even one tear shed—one prayer spoken—from the depths of the soul unleashes the mercy of God. In faith, we bring our broken hearts to Jesus.

We hand over our children and await as Jesus summons our sons and daughters out of their death and darkness: arise from your addiction, arise from your depression, arise from your shame, arise from your broken dreams, arise from your abusive relationship, arise from your sickness, arise from your fears, arise from your unbelief, arise from your sin. In Christ, be healed. Be free. Be alive! Mother’s Prayers, an international prayer ministry, gathers mothers/grandmothers/spiritual mothers for intercessory prayer on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

Its prayer book guides mothers into an absolute trust of God, articulating the truth of God’s compassionate heart for mothers and their children: “Dear Jesus, you see right into our hearts and you see pain there. We come to bring our children to you. We know that you love them so much more than we do.” When weeping over our children, we can be assured God is tending to their hurting hearts and souls. And even when our children die, we can respond in faith.

I know so many, too many, fiercely loving and faithful women, who offered millions of prayers and wept oceans of tears, and yet their beloved children/grandchildren died. Left with empty arms and aching hearts, Mother’s Prayers encourages these mothers not to lose hope. “Stop your crying and wipe away your tears. All that you have done for your children will not go unrewarded. They will return from the enemy’s land. There is hope for your future. Your children will come back home.” (Jer 31: 16,17)

We name grace in the domestic church—God’s caring presence—when our children witness us praying on their behalf and shedding tears when they suffer. We name grace as we pray for the needs of others. We name grace as we demonstrate God’s power to raise us out of any darkness. In prayer and with tears, we entrust our children to the infinite mercy of God, who brings life out of any death. And when heartbroken mothers enter heaven, we can only imagine the joy as God turns their mourning into dancing when he lovingly hands back the children they long to embrace—fully healed, fully alive! Surely, God has visited his people. Now, that’s good news. When have you wept for your children? How have you experienced God’s mercy and compassion through intercessory prayer?

Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the good news in the home. Mother’s Prayers is open to all mothers. The U.S. national coordinator, Liz Cushman of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, may be contacted through email: USA@MOTHERSPRAYERS.ORG or at 563-590-3729.