11th March 2018

Peace on Mother’s Day 

“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’…‘honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as yourself.’”
Matthew 19:16, 19 (NIV)
 

For most of us, Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the love between a parent and their children, but for Deborah Cotton, Mother’s Day will always be the story of a different kind of love. Deborah is a journalist and long-time advocate for non-violence and social action who sacrificed years of her career to help disadvantaged neighbourhoods in her beloved New Orleans. But on Mother’s Day in 2013 that all changed when she was one of 20 people injured in a mass shooting during a parade. When two gang members opened fire into the crowd of innocent bystanders Deborah was hit in the abdomen, and the bullet tore through several vital organs.

Thirty surgeries later, she survived. But she would forever carry the scars, a reminder of the high cost of her service to her community. She now also faced a choice about what Mother’s Day would mean to her. Would it be reliving the horrific memory of that day and the pain that came with it? Or would she choose to turn her tragedy into something positive through forgiveness and love? Amazingly, Deborah chose love. She reached out to the man who shot her and visited him in prison. She wanted to hear his story and understand why he would do something so violent. Since her first visit, Deborah has helped her shooter turn his life around, focusing specifically on his spiritual transformation in relationship to God.

When I heard about this incredible story, I couldn’t help but think of the life-changing love of our own amazing Saviour. Like Deborah, he too carries the scars of love: eternal reminders of the high cost of his work to redeem humankind. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

And the amazing thing? Jesus did this willingly. He knew before his death of the pain into which he was about to enter. But instead of turning away, the sinless Son of God voluntarily assumed the entire cost to judge and bring to an end all of humanity’s sin, to reconcile us to God and deliver us from evil and eternal death. He even prayed for his Father to forgive the very men who were crucifying him! His love truly knows no bounds! And it’s so heartening to see signs of his reconciling and transforming love spread through the world today by people like Deborah, who chose love over condemnation, forgiveness rather than retribution. And this Mother’s Day, we can all be inspired by her example as she depended upon and followed Jesus Christ, to go out and do likewise.

Prayer
Glorious Father, in human terms there is perhaps no greater love than a mother’s love for her child. When we understand the love you have shown to us, we can grasp only something of the depth of your love for us. Help us, Holy Father, in our day-by-day walk with you to learn and practice more of the love you have shown us and commanded us to show to others. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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About the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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