Today is often called Mothering Sunday in the Anglican Communion.
It takes this name from the Epistle, where St. Paul says, Jerusalem which
is above is free; which is the mother of us all' (Gal 4:26).
This heavenly Jerusalem is our spiritual home. Here on earth she
is the Church, nourished in the wilderness by God (Rev. 12:6). At
the last day, she shall be made manifest as the bride of Christ, the holy
city, the new Jerusalem, descending upon a renovated earth for the marriage
supper of the Lamb (Rev. 21:1, 19:7). This is the city of the living
God (Heb. 12:22), where the saints love even themselves only for God's
There is, however, another earthly city (compare Gal. 4:25; Rev. 17:1-6).
In this city, charity has been so perverted that not even true self-love
remains, only the pride of life. The pride of life is a boastful
assertion of one's own superiority and exaltation of one's deeds.
It shows itself as a twisted desire for reputation and respect among men
for one's own sake, and not for God's. It can be defined as an unwillingness
to acknowledge God's proper authority over his creatures or as a substitution
of one's own will for God's will.
This was our Lord's third temptation in the wilderness, for there he
was tempted to strike a bargain with the devil for worldly glory.
Such a temptation could only appeal to an arrogant desire to be loved and
feared by men for one's own sake, to the utter exclusion of God.
We should give thanks to God that we are not children of the bond-woman,
but the free' (Gal. 4:31). We are not citizens of the earthly city,
but of the city of God. We have been called to share in the marriage
supper of the Lamb, the heavenly banquet of the Lord.
Happily we have had a foretaste of this heavenly refreshment, for this
was our Lord's point in the miraculous feeding of the multitude on the
lonely mountain top. He meant to teach them that he was the true
bread come down from heaven. To eat of this bread is to live eternally
(John 6:51). That meal in the wilderness was meant to anticipate
the banquet in the coming kingdom. Moreover, this participation beforehand
in the Messiah's banquet was extended at the institution of the Lord's
Supper as well (John 6:53: compare Luke 22:15, 16). Thus, even now
we are able to feed on that bread of life which is our inheritance with
the saints in light (compare Col. 1:12).
Today is also often called Refreshment Sunday on account of the Gospel.
Last week we were warned not to leave our souls clear of our old sins but
empty of faith in God, or else sin would return many times worse than it
had been in the first place. Let us, therefore, fill our souls with
the bread of life, which is Jesus. He is present to us in the Word
and Sacrament and able to furnish our souls with His own virtue by the
grace of the Holy Spirit. Thus refreshed, let us go up to Jerusalem
with our Lord in all humility to suffer and die and rise again.