One of the most touching scenes I can imagine is that of Mary, Jesus’ mother, standing at her son’s feet, beholding His death as Jesus instructs John to care for her. “Don’t just take care of her, care for her as I would,” I imagine him implying as He said the sacred words to his disciple, “Behold Thy Mother.”
I think we may fall short in our reverence for that Woman in the Mormon faith. On this Mother’s Day, I praise and thank God for Jesus’ faithful Mother Mary. I can’t imagine what she endured.
I am especially touched by this artistic rendition that shows those few disciples who stood by Him while he suffered the Cross. The other Mary, who many of us believe was more than just a disciple, appears to be at her Master’s feet. Completely devastated and yet completely there. There is no fear in her love for Him.
John is also fearless for whatever reason. While others fled and hid and were afraid, John, Jesus’ “beloved,” stood faithfully by and watched. Oh what a privilege to even try to contemplate this kind of love, that “casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16).
And yet I imagine also that the pain, the irony and the contradictions were felt most acutely by them on that day. After all, Joseph taught that Jesus experienced more irony and contradictions than any man. I assume that any sincere follower of Christ, especially those who watched on the day of Crucifixion, also taste of such ironies and contradictions relative to their devotion.
This love between Mother and Son and between Husband and Wife and between Savior and Disciple is what inspires me this Mother’s Day morning. Thank You Lord for showing us “How it is done.” (Enos 1:7)
Joseph also demonstrated John-like love. He too was fearless. Parley said of Joseph:
‘It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.
‘It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. It was from him that I learned that we might cultivate these affections, and grow and increase in the same to all eternity. . . .
‘It was from him that I learned the true dignity and destiny of a son of God, clothed with an eternal priesthood, as the patriarch and sovereign of his [family]. It was from him that I learned that the highest dignity of womanhood was, to stand as a queen and priestess to her husband. . . .’ (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1968, pp. 297–98.)
I thank God for Joseph on this Mother’s Day as well. Where would we be without his connection to heaven?
I don’t think we hear enough good spoken of Emma or Lucy in the church today. I’m not trying to be critical. It’s simply an honest observation. It’s curious that these amazing women, who were clearly disciples of our Savior, who stood by Joseph and Hyrum, chose to not follow Brigham Young to Utah, or to come later for that matter. I hope I would have honored Joseph by trying to care for them, even if it meant staying behind.
Can you imagine the scene in the parlor where Joseph and Hyrum were displayed, lifeless, to be viewed one last time in mortality? Lucy recorded in her own words as she came down the steps and saw her grandchildren clinging to her own sons’ necks:
“I was left desolate in my distress. I had reared six sons to manhood, and of them all, only one remained … as I entered the room and saw my murdered sons … it was too much; I sank back, crying to the Lord in the agony of my soul, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken this family!’ A voice replied, ‘I have taken them to myself, that they might have rest.’
“As I looked upon their peaceful, smiling countenances, I seemed almost to hear them say, ‘Mother, weep not for us, we have overcome the world by love; we carried to them the gospel, that their souls might be saved; they slew us for our testimony, and thus placed us beyond their power; their ascendancy is for a moment, ours is an eternal triumph’” (“History of Joseph Smith by His Mother,” my emphasis added).
Lucy, you amazing Mother, I bow my knee on your behalf this day and ask our Lord to bless you and Emma and your entire family, both living and dead. Thank for your sacrifices for us often ungrateful members of the church!
I of course also think of my own mother this day. She brought me into the world and has made many sacrifices for me and my siblings and others. Her lot has not always been easy. I have caused her great stress over the years. And I am grateful to her for doing all show knows how to do on our behalf. I don’t think my mother reads this blog, but in case she does, Mom, thank you.
My most heartfelt thoughts I leave of my wife. She is my soul mate and my best friend. I have watched her sacrifice her life for me and our children in ways that go beyond a calling or title. She, like the Marys of old, stands by us in the darkest of hours. Selfless. Never complaining. Always there. I praise the God of Heaven and Earth for you on this day my love. I cannot thank you or Him enough. It is my greatest desire to be redeemed so that we may have some shred of hope of being together as a family after this life. Thanks for standing by me and for not giving up on us.
One final thought on this Mother’s day from a true and faithful prophet of God on the sacred topic of families. Joseph taught:
“The doctrine or sealing power of Elijah is as follows:—If you have power to seal on earth and in heaven, then we should be wise. The first thing you do, go and seal on earth your sons and daughters unto yourself, and yourself unto your fathers in eternal glory, and go ahead, and not go back, but use a little wisdom, and seal all you can, and when you get to heaven tell your Father that what you seal on earth should be sealed in heaven, according to his promise. I will walk through the gate of heaven and claim what I seal, and those that follow me and my counsel.” (Joseph Smith, TPJS Section 6, p. 340, my emphasis added)
It is my testimony that the greatest way to honor our mothers and our families is to seek to receive sealing power. Receiving sealing power must be “individual.” It requires more than just a temple marriage and “faithful” church service. We cannot rely upon a church to magically cast a spell upon our families and expect nothing more will be required except to “endure to the end.” Receiving true sealing power requires our very hearts and souls. We must be stretched as was Abraham.
Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. (Lectures on Faith)
May we honor Motherhood this day by working in all diligence to preserve our families and loved ones in the eternities. God help us in this effort before it is everlastingly too late.