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Motherly Love

“As a mother comforts her child, so I [God] will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).
“Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you; you are gentle with us as a mother with her children”. (St. Anselm of Canterbury)
“And though our earthly mother may suffer her child to perish, our heavenly Mother Jesus may never suffer us who are his children to perish, for he is almighty, all wisdom and all love, and so is none but he, blessed may he be.” (Julian of Norwich, 14th c.).
Julian of Norwich was a Medieval mystic who spoke often of God and Jesus as “mother’. She was not the only one—Hildegard von Bingen, Catherine of Siena and St. Anselm of Canterbury also wrote and taught about the feminine aspects of God. Julian spoke of Divine Love as “motherly love” and saw God as both Father and Mother, and even saw the maternal aspect of Christ in a literal sense and not merely just as a metaphor. Scholars note that Julian applies this feminine aspect of God to the  relational quality of the Trinity where father means “power and goodness” and motherhood means “wisdom and lovingness”. Jesus says, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Luke 13:34 and Matt. 23:37). The bible is full of passages with feminine imagery for God. While we still often think of gender when referring to masculine and feminine imagery, today in the 21st century, society is much more fluid regarding masculine and feminine roles allowing us to explore, in a broader sense like Julian, who God can be in our lives. As today is Mother’s Day, let us ponder what the various passages and writings about God as mother can tell us about God’s nature and God’s love for us. After all, as the first chapter of Genesis tells us, God created us male and female in God’s own image.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Faithfully, Mtr. Jenifer