A True Mother’s Love…is a symbol of God’s love for us
Let me begin by greeting our Mothers on this Mother’s Day in several parts of the world. Today, as we appreciate you, I’d like to “use you” as an analogy of God’s Love for us. I’m not a psychologist, or even a parent, so please forgive me if I get the analogy wrong!
A Mother and her daughter had to cross a river and the bridge was not very good – even holes in the floor. So the Mother said “hang onto my hand.” The daughter replied, “no, mum, you hang onto my hand because, if I hang on to you, I will let go when I become afraid. But if you hang onto me, I know you will not let go.”
When we are young, a traditional family builds up a devotion to God through prayer, Mass, the Sacraments, etc. and children are very open to the idea of God. We’ve probably seen children praying honestly to God and they can make us smile at what they say.
Through the life of Jesus Christ, God is really holding our hands. This works wonderfully well when children are very young – perhaps even up to the age of 10. But, after that, mum and the kids can have periods of separation – if not physically at least “attitude-wise.”
It’s that phase when children begin the process of surviving on their own. Of course, mothers are sometimes reluctant to let us go out of fear for our safety… As is God worried about our safety. And, so, we have “arguments” between parents and children as they establish their independence: as we also walk away from God at times.
Eventually, with great worry, mothers know they must let go. As God respects our free choice. So there come periods of separation; sometimes done rudely due to frustration!
The great thing about our mums (and many dads also) is that we are always forgiven… even if we get a lecture (tongue lashing!) when we “return.” God is like that, but less “lashing”
And so, today, as we thank our Mothers for holding on to our hands as children, we can ask God to help us imitate that love that “let’s go” and “welcomes back” after making a mess!
Our world, today, is much in need of welcoming back our family members, our friends and our neighbours. Without welcome, there can be no peace.
So, I’m suggesting that this is the “service” needed in our community, today, and the First Reading is speaking to us: are you the one? “you must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom; excuse the language violation!
It just says, people of good reputation… no mention of a degree in rocket science! Filled with the Spirit means being alive!! Enjoying life, but not selfishly: we must also give others permission and space to enjoy life.
SEVEN is a special number in Biblical language meaning “perfect”. So here it would seem to indicate, choose as many as you need to do the works of service every family needs them.
It’s vital we connect with the Gospel passage: “there are many rooms in my father’s house.” Because, when we welcome back our son or daughter, our friend or neighbour, they are not the same as when they left. We, too, are not the same!
The many rooms, I suggest, is not so people are isolated in lockdown, but that they have space to be the beautiful version of God that God created them to be. They will not be alone… they will enter the “room” where they can be themselves at this time of their life! Yes, before death.
So, the many rooms also means that you will never be bored with God if we are truly alive: “God is glorified when men/women are fully alive.” So says St Irenaeus about 1,800 years ago. At different times of our lives we’ll express the Spirit in different ways.
Fully alive is when we are excelling in the use of our skills and talents, not when we are chanting songs of praise – although, that one is valid if you have a beautiful voice! (my beautiful voice left me at age 14!).
After age 40, fully alive is passing on our gifts/ talents to others: creating space for them.
Now, here’s my take on Jesus’ recipe for success: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”…
Jesus knew when to arrive = be on time;
Jesus knew when to leave = don’t hang around like a bad smell – give people space;
Jesus knew when to hide = don’t be an idiot and fight everything that moves;
Jesus knew how to listen = so shut-up and learn;
Jesus knew how to take time out = so study hard plus allow boredom once a week;
Jesus knew how to speak = practice appreciating others with words/actions. etc., etc., etc.
Jesus Christ is very accessible in the realities of life, but always with a view to giving others life/ space/ opportunities: then rewards flow. Enjoy life to the full, but NOT to excess!
By Gerard Conlan, OMI