Sunday, May 13, 2007

Easter, 6th Sunday - homily

A few summers ago, I was stationed in a parish in Southern Maryland. One of the families who lived in the parish asked me to pray for their daughter, Maria. Maria was pregnant with her second child when her doctors discovered a tumor in her body that was cancerous. The family asked me and many other people to pray for Maria. They also turned to the intercession of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, a woman who was in the same situation as Maria about forty years ago in Italy. Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child when doctors discovered her cancerous tumor. They advised her to abort her baby if she wanted to live.

She made the heroic choice to go forward with the pregnany, and she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. A year later, she died in her battle with the cancer. A few years ago, Pope John Paul II canonized her a saint, and now she is a patron saint of the pro-life movement. Maria made the same heroic choice, and now she is battling the cancer. It has been up and down for the past two years, but the last I heard she was doing better. Please join in praying for Maria as so many people are.

What incredible examples of heroic, motherly love! All of our mothers are heroes of life and love. They lay down their lives – some do it literally, like Maria and Gianna – for us. They have given their lives so that we would have life. This has been God’s Plan for humanity: that all human life comes from mothers. We thank God that our mothers said yes to life; if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here!

Just like the Apostles and early disciples, as we hear in the first reading, mothers “dedicate their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. They dedicate their lives to the name of love… to the name of life. Think about what that lines says: they dedicate their whole lives to a name…to a name! Mothers give their lives for life. They dedicate their lives for our lives. We are grateful to God that they have said yes to life, and dedicated their lives to our lives.

God is all about life and love. Jesus is God’s Word in the world. He speaks of the Father’s life and love. The lives of our mothers speak of life and love; they “keep God’s word”, as Jesus says in the Gospel. This shows us, not only that they love Jesus because they keep his word, God’s word in the flesh – his word about life and love. Also, a line from today’s Gospel sounds like something our mothers would say: “do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid”. Our mother want the same thing for us as God does: for us to be secure, safe, and at peace.

The greatest example of heroic, motherly love is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is most dedicated to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Her whole life – every day, hour, and second – was dedicated to her Son. She always said yes to God. It was most true when she was around 14: she said yes to God’s Plan through the angel Gabriel to bring the Christ into the world. She said yes to bring our Savior into the world. Her yes brought salvation into the world.

Everything we have in our faith in Christ is through Mary, our Mother. In a few minutes, we will receive the Eucharist, the greatest gift in the world. We will have Salvation in the flesh…true bread from heaven... all because Mary said yes. If it weren’t for our own mothers, we wouldn’t be here…on this Earth. If it weren’t for our Mother, Mary, we wouldn’t be here in this Church. It’s because they said yes that we have life, and because she said yes that we have Eternal Life.

We thank God on this Mothers Day for our mothers. They are heroes of life and love. It is because they have said yes to life and love that we have life and a chance of eternal life. It is through their yes that we can experience God’s love in this life and for all eternity.


At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers intheir arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherryKool-Aid saying, "It's all right honey, Mommy's here"...who have sat inrocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't becomforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hairand milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse...for all themothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes...andall the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see...andthe mothers who took those babies and gave them homes...and for themothers who lost their baby in that precious 9 months that they will neverget to watch grow on earth but one day will be reunited with in Heaven!

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging ontheir refrigerator doors. And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers atfootball or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth oftheir cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?"they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for theworld," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery storeand swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for icecream before dinner...and for all the mothers who count to ten instead,but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explainedall about making babies...and for all the (grand) mothers who wanted to,but just couldn't find the words.This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat...forall the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year...andthen read it again... "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie theirshoelaces before they started school...and for all the mothers who optedfor Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and theirdaughters to sink a jump shot.This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a littlevoice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspringare at home -- or even away at college.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomachaches assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to getcalls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick themup. Right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find thewords to reach them.

This is for all the step-mothers who raised another woman's child orchildren, and gave their time, attention, and love... Sometimes totallyunappreciated!

For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their14-year-olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school,safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broadhips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on ashirt, all at the same time? Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache youfeel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street,walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes youfrom sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. To put your hand on theback of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2A.M. When you just want to hear their key in the door and know they aresafe again in your home? Or the need to flee from wherever you are andhug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a childdying?The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for youngmothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... Andmature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.Single mothers and married mothers.Mothers with money, mothers without.This is for you all.For all of us.Hang in there.In the end we can only do the best we can.Tell them every day that we love them. And pray.

"Home is what catches you when you fall - and we all fall."

At 5:14 PM, Blogger fran said...

In which room does your Bible study meet? Turns out I will be attending my daughter's band concert at the same time!

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Kat said...


Basement of the Rectory 7pm.

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

Whenever lifs gets a little hard or things are working out the way I expected, I will look at one of my children's faces to remember that life is really perfect. It may not always be perfectly the way I want it to be, but with the receipt of one of their dimpled smiles, and I'm sure that all is as it's meant to be in my life. The fact that I have been given these children to love is the greatest blessing I can think of. I like to celebrate my children's birthdays by going to Mass. It gives me an opportunity to say thank you and remember from where my children's lives truly originated. I always connected with the idea that children come through us rather than to us. The greatest accomplishment in my lifetime will be keeping my children on the path that eventually leads them back home.

I've never been one for big celebrations for my own "special" days. It seems unneccessary to me that a day is set aside to "honor" me. Even when I'm overwhelmed (and those of you who know me know how often that can be), I feel honored all the time by the simple fact that I am my children's mother. The poems and cards were nice and produced a few tears, but the daily thanks you's, great big hugs, earnest talks, and the powerful sense that I can fix almost anything with a Mickey Mouse band-aid and a kiss are the things that I hold dearly each day. I guess I feel that everyday is really Mother's Day.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My aunt sent me this pass along maother's day card, and I'm sharing a few of the cute thoughts-

Someone said it takes 6 wks to get back to normal after having a baby-
they don't know that for a mom, normal is history.

Someone said you learn motherhood by instinct, but they never took a 3 yr old shopping.

Someone said being a mother is boring, but they have never driven in a car with a newly permitted teenager behind the wheel.

Someone said you don't need an education to be a mother, but I bet they never had to help a forth grader with math.

Someone said you can't love the 5th child as much as the 1st. that person never had 5 children.

Someone said you can learn all you need to know in parenting books, but try to find the chapter about extracting beans from up a child's nose (that one really happened twith one of my kids!).

Someone said labor and delivery was the hardest part of motherhood, but they never had to wave goodbye to their baby on the first day of kindergarten.

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

For some it is hard not to hate and resent mother's day when you never got to hold your child.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat -- Thanks for the reality check. It ain't all roses.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For some it is hard not to hate and resent mother's day when you never got to hold your child."

I used to get really uncomfortable about Mother's Day. It wasn't b/c I wasn't able to hold my baby- the opposite, in fact. I was young when I discovered, right around Mother's Day, that I was pregnant. I was in college, unmarried, and my baby's father wanted nothing to do with either one of us. I was really ashamed that I had was in that position and terrified of how my family would react. I knew my mother would pressure me to have an abortion, and so I didn't tell her about the pregnancy. I gained less than 15 lbs, and I really only looked like I gained "college weight". I didn't tell my mom (or anyone else, except my doctor) until I went into labor. After my child was born, I didn't even want to look at him, thinking, "Oh well, here's the proof that I'm immoral and foolish!" I didn't name the baby for one entire week, as I wasn't sure if I would put him up for adoption. Fortunately, I had a very kind nurse sit down to talk with me. She talked about making a choice that was based in love rather than from a place of punishment. She talked about all the reasons I should forgive myself, and, amazingly, I listened. I eventually forgave myself for making the mistake that so many young girls do when they are far from home and have a need to feel "loved", but it took MUCH, MUCH longer to forgive myself for not wanting my child. It took years, and every Mother's Day I felt like a fraud. I am now sooo thankful for that little baby who has since grown into a beautiful adult. I do understand that Mother's Day isn't easy for all, I had simply forgotten until Kat mentioned it. I will remember to pray for those mothers.

At 4:03 PM, Blogger fran said...

To the above Anon:
God bless you for choosing life!

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To the above Anon:
God bless you for choosing life!"

I've come to believe that life chose me, and that is exactly how God did, and still does bless me.


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