Once again the text for Mothering Sunday looks at the Father figure in the Parable of the lost Son, there are other characters of course, the older and younger brothers, the servant, and then the bit parts, the farmer the younger son worked for, the feckless friends who deserted him, and the community that surrounded the family who along with all of the farm workers were invited to the feast in the closing act. The mother remains both invisible and silent! She may of course have died, making the father a widower, though he would probably have married again, such was the culture, but this is not mentioned, so I suspect that she was there in the background.
I wonder how she felt, was she scandalised when her husband divided his property and gave the younger son his portion, was she angry with this wayward son, or was he perhaps her favourite, had she somehow persuaded the father into dividing his estate, surely that would have been mentioned!
What did she think when he left home and headed for a far away country, leaving the family with no news. Did she try to persuade the older son to follow his rebellious brother, or did she hold him close not wanting to loose another son. Was the older boy her favourite, did they find comfort in dismissing the younger brother together, he’d never been interested in the farm or the family anyway.
Perhaps the mother and the father shared one heart, day by day worrying together, sharing their concerns, seeking information as to the whereabouts of their son, did she join the father as he kept watch on the road day by day? Maybe she stayed at home, pouring her love and prayers into a magnificent cloak, ostensibly for her husband, but one they both knew was really for their son.
Finally he is spotted on the road, the father immediately recognising him from a distance, hitching up his robes and running to greet him, throwing his arms around the boy who is trying to splutter out apologies, he orders the somewhat bemused servant who had tried to keep up with him to fetch the family ring and his best robe, to order the killing of the fatted calf, and to send out invitations for a party. Maybe the mother is putting the final stitches into her creation as the servant comes running in, her looks for the ring, and as he does she presses this new robe into his hands.
A party is thrown, is she there in the midst of it giving orders to the servants, checking the wine, tasting the sauces, is she outside consoling the angry and distraught older son, or is she, like many mothers somewhere between the two, loving them both, feeling joy and sorrow at the same time, longing for her family to be one at last, for though the younger son is home, the schism isn’t healed, the fathers love seems unbalanced to the older boy, so does she like Jesus weep, longing to draw her chicks under her wings, to throw a party for them both. Is she also a picture of the God who loves unconditionally?