"Let not your hearts be troubled"

Read today's gospel passage - John 14: 1-14

Listen to this message

"Let not your hearts be troubled." Peaceful words as in the words of soothing song. Let not your hearts be troubled.


Jesus said those words to his disciples. It was just before the Passover. It was a time of uncertainty for them. Jesus was preparing them to cope with what lay ahead. It was a confusing time in Jerusalem. There was much unrest. The authorities were searching for Jesus and his disciples.


I wonder if they were worried. I think so. I wonder if they were confused. I think so.


And so Jesus says to them, "Let not your hearts be troubled". And he elaborates from there with the words that follow in today's Gospel.


I think you and I can identify with feeling confused. I think we can identify about being worried. I think the disciples too were worried about being left alone. That could be something that passes in our thoughts and minds these days. We have the isolation of being confined in our rooms. We're cut off from others, especially family. It can be lonely or unsettling.


I'd say we need to hear Jesus words too, "Let not your hearts be troubled." Those words, and what Jesus adds in today's gospel, fit for the Fifth Sunday of Easter and maybe even more they fit for the Ninth Sunday of the Lockdown. That's all in the church calendar.


But on the regular calendar today is a different day. It's the Special Day which we all know as Mother's Day. So, on this special day and on a happy note, let me say, "Happy Mother's Day to all mom's in our parish. Blessings to each of you and thank you for all that you do in your families, for all that you have done in your families and for the wisdom of those experiences that you bring with you and share with us."


The world has set days aside to recognize mothers back to the Greek and Roman times but those festivals were associated with worshiping certain goddesses in their pantheon of gods. So, that's not what we know. In our day, other countries across the world have certain days of recognition but that's not the same either.


In the UK, there is something known as Mothering Sunday. But that's on the Fourth Sunday of Lent when people would go back to their mother churches where they were brought up. They'd go to church as a family and Mom, of course, would be leading the way. So, you could see how people may see that a bit like our Mother's Day but really it's not.


What we have as Mother's Day is a North American creation. More specifically, it's an American creation. There were a couple of women involved over the years in the late 1800's. It was likely Ann Jarvis and her daughter who can be credited as the Mothers of Mother's Day. Ann Jarvis organized a Mother's Friendship Day back then.


Julia Ward Howe also had an influence. In 1870, she wrote her "Mother's Day Proclamation" in which she called on all mothers of north and south in the US never again to send their sons off to war against each other as had happened during the US Civil War. She worked toward reconciliation between north and south and she was an abolitionist.


It was the daughter of Ann Jarvis, by the name of Anna, who actually ushered Mother's Day onto the calendar. The first official Mother's Day took place in Grafton, West Virginia at a Methodist Church in May 1902. Anna had elicited the support of a prominent merchant by the name of Wannamaker. At his store in Philadelphia on the same day thousands gathered. So, you now see the commercial connection to Mother's Day - something that Anna regretted and which she renounced to no avail.


In 1914, Woodrow Wilson added Mother's Day as an official holiday throughout the United States.


"Anna Jarvis had originally conceived of Mother's Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her version of the day involved wearing a white carnation as a badge and visiting one\'s mother or attending church services. But once Mother's Day became a national holiday, it was not long before florists, card companies and other merchants capitalized on its popularity."[1] She lamented such commercialization for the rest of her life.


Gradually, Mother's Day migrated over the border into Canada. It is not an official holiday in Canada.


I don't know if you were aware of any of that history of how Mother's Day came to be in Canada. It's actually a rather recent institution. I would have thought it came about much longer ago.


In any event, Mother's day this year is different. Families will not be able to get together as much as in normal times. I think that has spurred me to consider some aspects about Mother's Day that I haven't acknowledged on Sundays when I have worked Mother's Day into the cycle of readings during the Easter Season.


I haven't thought enough about the fact that some are raised without their mothers. So, I can see how Mother's Day can ring hollow and sad. (It's the same for Father's Day under similar circumstances.)


Eventually, all of us lose our mothers when their lives end. That part is bittersweet. We miss them but we usually have such fond memories to bring solace and peace and know that three score and ten has been a good life. These days, we push four score and ten or more which is an added blessing.


I realize also that, for a few, Mother's Day touches wounds of other loss. And in the midst of that emptiness, my hope and prayer is that this day is as it was originally intended: a day of friendship, and caring, and understanding -- first of all among all mothers. May we all aspire to that goal as we celebrate the gift of motherhood on this day.


No matter in how many ways this day may touch you, may the words of Jesus resonate in your heart. May this be a day on which to recall the warmth that you always bring as a mother. May you know in your heart what a difference you make in the world. And may you be surrounded - even if physically distanced -- by loved ones and friends to acknowledge the gift that you are for them, for us, and for the whole world. Amen to that!


The Peace of Christ be with you on Mother's Day. And God bless you.

[1] On History.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day


  1. Olive Walduck on 10 May 2020 at 5:06 PM

    Rev’d Glenn,
    My mum when she was alive we would celebrate Mothering Sunday in U.K and Mothers Day in Canada.
    In U.K. when we went into Church the children whether young or old would go to the Altar and receive
    from the Minister a little bunch of primroses, which we took back to our Mum in Church.
    Very memorable.
    Living in Canada I would send Mum flowers on both occasions.
    A great Homily and nice to hear your voice.

    • Glenn Empey on 10 May 2020 at 5:15 PM

      Hi Olive,

      So nice to hear about your traditions from over the pond. I’m sure you have fond memories of those days and of your Mom. Thanks for giving us that little piece of personal history.

      God bless you, Ray and family,


  2. Nancy on 10 May 2020 at 10:47 AM

    Thank you Rev. Glenn. It is indeed good to hear your voice again and the lovely message for us.
    Blessings to you.
    Nancy F.

    • Glenn Empey on 10 May 2020 at 5:16 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      I hope you have had a good day. Blessings to you on Mother’s Day. Nice to hear from you too, as always.


  3. Rick & Marion on 10 May 2020 at 8:27 AM

    How lovely to hear your voice Fr. Glenn and the beautiful voices of the Jesuits and the UK Blessing.
    Thank you for all you do to keep “your family” connected during this pandemic.

    • Father Glenn on 10 May 2020 at 8:33 AM

      Blessings to you, Marion, on Mother’s Day. And greetings to Rick.

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