Today’s first reading hits us with a bit of a surprise. Here we find motherly imagery for God:
Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my LORD has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
This at first glance can catch us off guard because we have become accustomed to speaking of God as Father. However, we must keep in mind this is a human way of speaking.
Other indications of this we find in places like Genesis 1. We are told that human beings were created in the image of God, and then we are told that they were created male and female. The female is created no less in the image of God than the male. God is beyond gender.
As human beings, we are always tempted to place God in a box. “Father” is certainly a helpful way of understanding God, as we see in Jesus teaching his disciples to pray the “Our Father.” However, the Old Testament has a number of places, mostly in Isaiah, where “mother” type language is used: Is 42:14; 43:1ff.; 42:2, 21ff.; 45:8ff.; 46:3f.; 49:13-21; 50:1-3; 66:7ff.
How do you like to put God in a box? How do you need to expand your thinking about God?