There are striking similarities and differences among ancient Near Eastern stories and legends of creation. We find the spiritual elegance and grace in the Biblical narrative where God creates the universe out of his abundant love and with his mere word to be in sharp contrast with the Babylonian version dominated by violence and murder. The Babylonian epic known as “Enuma Elish” was well known in ancient Armenia during the period of the Urartu kingdom. There are monuments and inscriptions by Armenian kings Argishti I and Rusa II found in Erebuni, Karmir Bloor and Tsopk regions which refer to the legend.
What is it about this ancient Babylonian legend that inspired the ancient Armenians? What aspect of the epic resonated with the Armenian worldview?
Something truly astonishing takes place at the end of “Enuma Elish.” The lifeless and wounded body of the mother goddess becomes a symbol of resurrection, new beginning and new life when it transforms itself into heavens and earth, forges the creation of the universe and brings forth life and light from the darkness of death.
The core message of the epic powerfully echoes and reflects the Armenian worldview of motherhood, divinity, fatherland, national identity, and all that is holy and sacred in life. To this day, we refer to our homeland as Mayr Hayastan, our language as mayreni. We call the main river nursing and giving life to our lands Mayr Araks and we recognize our most sacred sight as Mayr Ator. But the legend goes much further and connects with the belief of resurrection which Armenians cherished from the story of Ara Keghetsik to the foundation of our true faith – the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior. And most importantly for today’s message, the epic applies divine qualities and attributes to motherhood.
We live in a broken world inflicted with wars and violence and anticipate a heavenly kingdom ruled by peace. Our lives are fragile, subject to death and disease, but we hope and believe in a life that is eternal and powered by everlasting joy. There is a very real and dangerous friction and tension between what we believe and the reality of our lives. God understands this. This is precisely why the loving Lord installed beacons of light and hope in our lives through which he continuously and tirelessly reveals himself, his promise of salvation and eternal life, gives hope and strengthens our hearts.
Nothing in human life resembles and reflects our understanding of God more powerfully and clearly than motherhood. A mother gives birth and creates, a mother helps us forge and form a character and identity, a mother feeds and nurtures, heals pain with her touch and gives hope with her presence, a mother unites, sustains and holds families together, a mother always understands, relates and connects, a mother always finds a way and solution, always forgives and accepts and always, always loves. Motherhood is indeed the majestic mirror of the most magnificent and merciful loving God.
Identifying and likening motherhood and our mothers to the omnipotent God, the creator and the universe, the Alpha and Omega, is not simply symbolic mental exercise or some sort of abstract theology. It is based on the very word of God who countless times compares his love for us to a mother caring for her child. In the book of prophet Isaiah we read, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13), “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15). And of course, our Lord himself used the same allegory to show his care and love for us when he pictures himself as a mother bird trying to gather her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37).
Dear brothers and sisters, on this Mother’s day let us thank the Lord for his gift of a mother to us, let us cherish, appreciate and remember our mothers more than ever, let us pray for them and ask the beloved Lord to bless and be with our mothers always, amen.