I was waiting at the school gate when my grandson appeared. In his hand he held a picture that he had made and he showed it to me. ‘That is very good’, I told him. In response he said to me, ‘My mammy will be so proud of me.’ It made me smile to hear him say it. We all love our mammies and know how much our mammies love us. Mammy is the origin of life, the place where it all started: Our deepest connection and bond. We always want to please them and have them be proud of us.
A woman in the crowd, listening to a young preacher, is moved to think how much his mother must be proud of him. How happy he must make her. ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you.’ Yet, she, like all mothers will also know the sword of sorrow that pierces the heart when things go wrong. But for now it is enough to say how happy and proud she must be.
In reply Jesus says something very interesting. He is not simply trying to be clever when he says that the happiest person of all is the one who hears the word of God and puts it into practice. Having a child that makes you proud is a great thing. Having a mother who loves you truly is equally a great thing. But the issue of life’s happiness needs a deeper root even than family affection.
That root is personal goodness of life. It is the very thing that all good mothers tell their children every time they go out the door and leave the house. Be good, they say, and they mean it. For, the greatest protection you can give yourself in this world from all harm is a life of personal goodness. Deep happiness flows from that.
8 October 2022