Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So, the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses,[a] “because,” she said, “I drew him out[b] of the water.”
God of love,
passionate and strong, tender, and careful:
watch over us and hold us
all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The story of Moses, the great prophet of Israel is well known in three of the world’s great religions, as well as in films and through much of our society.
However, like all the stories of great men and women, it begins with a helpless baby. Whether we look at all people in the world, however obscure or famous, or look at our own lives, this is the starting place. We were all born.
Thankfully, many mothers are wonderful, perhaps some are adequate and sadly a very few are not even that. Over the years, in my job I have from time to time come across situations of neglect that bring tears to my eyes, but often, even then, there is often a huge amount of residual love left within children for an inadequate mother. We are all loved more than we deserve – and not just by God. Somehow love enables the great majority of us to grow and to learn to love others.
The mother of Moses was neither neglectful nor merely adequate. She loved her child; she knew that male babies were at risk and she did all that she could to protect him. That meant concealing him in the basket. It meant her daughter looking out for him. It meant accepting another woman to be his stepmother. It meant merely acting as a wet-nurse. It meant handing him over and someone else naming him. It meant stepping back into the shadows and not being part of his life as he grew up.
This is a love of wanting the best for that child, it is a love of self-sacrifice, it is a love that went above and beyond all that came naturally to her. It is a love based on trust in God to bring good out of the most difficult of circumstances.
We give thanks for our own mothers.
We pray for all mothers everywhere.
We pray especially for those mothers for whom motherhood is a struggle, for those who need help coping with the demands and pressures of life.
We pray for single mothers, and for single fathers as they nurture their children.