A Mother: The Suffering Servant

“Behold, My servant will. . . be high and lifted up and greatly exalted” (Isaiah 52:13).
      Catholic mothers rightly see themselves in this beautiful passage from the Suffering Servant’s passage in Isaiah.  It depicts the future Messiah, who will be “pierced through for our transgressions,  crushed for our iniquities” (53:4).  The Messiah, the Scripture tells us, will bear pain and suffering, for our sake.  And by his pain, we will be healed:  “The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed” (53:5).
     Mothers, especially those who live out their vocation with devotion and faith, live a close parallel to this Suffering Servant described here.  The devout mother suffers intense pain for a time.  She gives up her hopes, her dreams, her comfort.  She relinquishes her time, her interests, her control.  She takes on physical suffering: stretch marks, unwanted weight, strange blemishes; labor and delivery pain; challenges with nursing, infections, postpartum struggles.  For years, she carries a baby on her hip, hunched over, back out of alignment.  She spends years for each child she bears, giving her body over to this child.
    But mothers do not suffer in vain.  Mothers suffer for the sake of another.  Like the Suffering Servant, mothers endure pain and difficulties, out of sacrificial love for their child and their family.  They resemble the Suffering Servant, who bears pain for the well-being of his people.
    I recall crying, two years ago, lamenting my postpartum weight, fatigue, and general misery.  My husband said to me, “You have taken a hit for the team!  We all see and appreciate what you are doing for us!  We have this precious baby boy in our family now, because of what you have endured!  Thank you, Kathryn!”  That sentence meant the world to me.  It carried me through many more months of emotional and physical challenges.  I knew that “this too shall pass,” but my eighth pregnancy and postpartum phase was a long and arduous path.  Mothers can hit terrible lows.
    But like the Suffering Servant, faithful mothers one day will be “high and lifted up and greatly exalted.”  We wear our crown of thorns, only one day to wear heavenly crowns.  The kingship of Christ began with his suffering on Calvary.  But it ended in eternal glory.   So too, mothers who share in His suffering will one day share in his radiant triumph.
    It is a great hope that we may rightly share, that our suffering will be redemptive and that one day we will enjoy the great exaltation of Christ.