Despite the fourth commandment (or fifth, depending on how you count them), Jesus did not make many positive comments about biological parenthood.
On one occasion, according to Matthew’s gospel, when Mary and members of his family come to see Him, he leaves them standing outside, and says that real mother and brother are his disciples. Elsewhere, Jesus says that anyone who loves his mother or father more than they love Him is not worthy of Him. Matthew’s Jesus also tells us to "call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven," and even says that He came to "set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother.” So much for ‘Christian family values’ so far.
Still, Jesus and His Apostles do offer some more favourable visions of family life. Jesus did describe his disciples as his family, and St Paul writes to the Corinthians that he was made their "father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel." Along with Paul, Peter and John repeatedly write to their fellow Christians as "children" and "sons." And emphatically, on the point of crucifixion, we heard in today’s reading from S. John’s gospel how Jesus gives Mary over to be the mother of John and his Christian community.
So, according to Jesus’ teaching, the Christian family is the Church, and has known spiritual mothers and fathers since New Testament times. This is the positive model of “parenthood" offered by Jesus in the Bible.
That said, the Gospel is formed not only (and not even primarily) of Christ’s teachings, but of his example. What we know of God, we know through the life and person of Jesus. His Crucifixion reveals that God is like someone who risks pain and even death to give new life to people, unknown people who may not even recognise the gift he is giving them - an image which men can know only second-hand, but which is an analogue of the painful and dangerous life-giving act of the mother in childbirth. Mothers do therefore share in a special, particular way in the divine image which men cannot fully grasp. This is a potent reminder that, for all we refer to God by masculine terms such as “He," “Father,” or “ on,” God is beyond gender, and as much our mother as our father.
The New Testament claims that our true parents and true family are the ones who nurture us spiritually, in a relationship that leads us beyond ourselves and to God, whether this happens to coincide with our biological relationships or not. So let us give thanks to God for our mothers – but also for anyone who gives us the spiritual motherhood we need to help us grow, for the gift of mother Church, for the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Christ has given to be mother of his Church, and for God who is both mother and father of all.